The Vikings made a handful of additions to the roster this offseason that could prove critical to the team’s success in 2017. Below are five newcomers to keep an eye on this year.
LT Riley Reiff: The former Lions lineman signed a five-year, $58.75 million contract with $26.3 million guaranteed in free agency to be the Vikings new left tackle. Reiff’s play and durability (three missed games in four seasons) will be paramount for any success the Vikings find on offense. He’s transitioning back to left tackle after spending 2016 on the right side in Detroit. As with new right tackle Mike Remmers, they expect an immediate boost by Reiff’s run blocking while knowing they may need to reinforce his pass protection.
RB Dalvin Cook: A dynamic playmaker at Florida State, Cook comes to Minnesota with towering expectations in the shadow of Adrian Peterson. Cook was viewed as a second-round steal to help last year’s 32nd-ranked run game, but he was weighed down by questions surrounding his character, fumbles and injury history. What’s unquestioned are his consistent home run plays against premiere college opponents as a perennial 1,000-yard back. He should get many chances to prove doubters wrong as a rookie.
DT Datone Jones: The former Packers first-round pick signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with $1.6 million guaranteed in free agency. He has moved to the interior defensive line after bouncing between end and outside linebacker spots in Green Bay. As Sharrif Floyd’s playing career remains in question, Jones has an opening to contribute next to Linval Joseph. He’s expected to compete this preseason with veteran Tom Johnson and rookie Jaleel Johnson for playing time in the rotation. He had nine sacks in four seasons for the Packers.
OL Pat Elflein: Elflein, named college football’s top center for Ohio State last year, was the Vikings’ answer for taking an early swing in the draft for the offensive line. The third-round pick has worked almost exclusively at center and will compete for the starting job with incumbent Nick Easton, who started the final five games of 2016. Elflein gives the Vikings some flexibility up front. He was a second-team All-America right guard for the Buckeyes before moving to center as a senior. That also makes him a top option behind left guard Alex Boone and right guard Joe Berger.
WR Rodney Adams: This rookie fifth-round pick has big shoes to fill. Adams, a speedy receiver out of South Florida, is first in line to replace electric returner Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs. The Vikings topped the league on kick returns each of the past two seasons. Now they turn to Adams, who averaged 25 yards per return in college and affirmed his speed with a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He was an all-around threat for the Bulls with 23 touchdowns, however he fumbled five times last season.