Vikings rookies played 1,789 snaps, the 10th fewest in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Still, despite a veteran roster, there are a handful of rookies with windows to contribute sooner than later. Here are four rookies you should keep an eye on this summer:
CB Mike Hughes
First round, Central Florida
Jersey number: 21
Hughes’ contributions this fall likely will come on special teams before coach Mike Zimmer allows him to play cornerback in the defense. The dynamic punt and kick returner fielded both alongside Marcus Sherels during spring practices. He’s also being groomed as a slot cornerback; however, his first training camp will be an indicator on whether he sticks at that position.
K Daniel Carlson
Fifth round, Auburn
Jersey number: 7
GM Rick Spielman made the franchise’s highest pick on a kicker when trading up to take Carlson at 167th overall. The big-legged SEC leading scorer has the potential to give the Vikings stability at a recently tumultuous position. He’ll first have to nudge out Kai Forbath, who returned on a one-year deal with $100,000 already paid in a signing bonus.
WR Brandon Zylstra
Undrafted, Concordia (Moorhead)
Jersey number: 15
Zylstra isn’t straight out of college, taking a detour after Moorhead to dominate in the Canadian Football League. Zylstra (6-3, 220 pounds) led the CFL with 1,687 yards last year in Edmonton. He was an under-the-radar signing by the Vikings in January, and could contribute to a receiver group that had its middle class gutted this offseason.
RB Roc Thomas
Undrafted, Jacksonville State
Jersey number: 32
Thomas wasn’t able to do much this spring because of an undisclosed injury. However, should he get on the field at the start of camp, he has a chance to earn a roster spot in a backfield looking for the No. 3 option. The former five-star recruit and Alabama’s “Mr. Football” transferred from Auburn to Jacksonville State, only 15 miles from his hometown. He averaged 6 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns in the FCS last fall.