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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Under-25 Vikings whose progress could impact offseason plans

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings may be a veteran team, but they still have 16 players on the active roster who are under the age of 25.

As the front office makes decisions in the free agent market and draft, one thing they will consider is the possibility of young players making progress. Let’s have a look at players who are under 25 that could have a bigger impact in 2018 than they did last year…

RB, Dalvin Cook

What we know:

If not for an ACL tear, we may have been talking about Dalvin Cook as a Pro Bowler. After an impressive training camp that won him the No. 1 job, Cook rushed for 354 yards and caught 11 passes for 90 yards in his first four games. Over a full season, that translates to over 1,700 yards from scrimmage.

How it could impact the offseason:

With Jerick McKinnon likely leaving in free agency, the Vikings will be on the hunt for a running back, but only as a role player. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is very likely to make Cook the centerpiece of his offense.

CB, Mackensie Alexander

What we know:

Mike Zimmer has a way of bringing along cornerbacks. Both Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes struggled at times early in their careers, but made steady progress and took off in their third year. After barely playing in his rookie season, the Vikings’ 2016 second-round pick was on the field for 32 percent of snaps. When he did play, he allowed one of the league’s lowest QB ratings against.

I see ya @MackAlexander20 !!

— Coach Siner (@ChrisSiner) February 1, 2018

How it could impact the offseason:

There are a number of very good nickel corner options on the market, including L.A.’s Nickel Robey-Coleman and Philly’s Patrick Robinson. If the Vikings fully believe that Alexander is a starting-caliber player, they won’t spend big to bring in a top name. If they aren’t entirely sold on his progress, it may be wise to keep him as a rotational player and sign a top free agent or bring back Terence Newman for one more run.

DT, Jaleel Johnson

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (94) sacks Buffalo Bills quarterback T.J. Yates (9) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

What we know:

The Vikings’ fourth-round pick from Iowa was dominant in the preseason, picking up one sack (shown above) and blowing up a number of run plays. Johnson rarely saw the field in the regular season, only playing 28 total snaps as he sat behind Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen.

How it could impact the offseason:

Both Tom Johnson and Stephen are free agents, opening the door for Jaleel Johnson to see more playing time. The Vikings could go all-in on a three-technique defensive tackle in free agency or draft one with the No. 30 overall pick, but they would still need another role player on the inside. If they believe Jaleel is on track to become a solid player, he might hold down that spot.

DE, Tashawn Bower

What we know:

The Vikings picked up Bower as an undrafted free agent from LSU. Like Danielle Hunter, his sack production was underwhelming at LSU but he’s lanky and was above average in some key Combine areas for pass rushers. Bower earned himself a spot on the roster with a terrific camp and preseason, but was rarely active in the regular season. He did pick up one sack at the end of the Vikings’ win over the Rams.

How it could impact the offseason:

If Brian Robison elects to retire, the Vikings could be in the market for a rotational pass rusher – that is, unless they believe Bower can be that player. That doesn’t mean the Vikings will ignore the pass rushing market. The Eagles had an impressive rotation of players who could rush the passer, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings try to stock up.

G, Danny Isidora

Oct 29, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings center Pat Elflein (65) and offensive guard Danny Isidora (63) during an NFL International Series game against the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Browns 33-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What we know:

Isidora was drafted in the fifth round of 2017. He impressed Zimmer from the get-go. The Vikings’ head coach talked about being impressed by the former Hurricane in OTAs and camp. He got one opportunity to start against the Cleveland Browns in London and performed admirably for a player with hardly any NFL experience.

How it could impact the offseason:

The Vikings’ top priority this offseason – outside of quarterback – is to continue to build their offensive line. That may mean drafting a guard or tackle in the first round or spending big for a top free agent. Isidora is unlikely to compete for the starting job, but he does allow the Vikings to look elsewhere in the later rounds rather than hunting for guard depth.

WR, Stacy Coley

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stacy Coley during the NFL football team drills Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Eden Prairie, Minn. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

What we know:

Coley had an outstanding preseason, grabbing 10 passes for 165 yards. He made receptions of over 30 yards in two different games, earning him a spot on the Vikings’ roster. In the regular season, however, he did not see the field often. Coley returned one kick for 19 yards and did not catch a pass. With a 4.4 40-yard dash and route-running skills, the Vikings’ 2017 seventh-round pick could be in the mix for a bigger role next season.

How it could impact the offseason:

The Vikings will have a decision to make at receiver. Do they want to ride with their current crop or make a splash for a No. 3. There are free agent options available like Chicago’s Kendall Wright and Atlanta’s Taylor Gabriel who might intrigue the Vikings. But if Coley is expected to step up, the front office might save cap space instead.

QB, Kyle Sloter

The Vikings must like Sloter a lot. They paid him a top salary for a practice squad player and then cut No. 3 tight end Kyle Carter rather than taking him off the active roster for the playoffs. Last preseason he posted a 125.4 rating with the Broncos. It’s unlikely that Sloter is the No. 2 QB from the get-go, but it’s possible the strong-armed quarterback will have a chance to compete for the backup spot in camp.

The post Under-25 Vikings whose progress could impact offseason plans appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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