Vikings Season Preview

Six new Vikings who could make a big impact in 2023

A mass exodus of veteran players opened up opportunities for new contributors on the Vikings roster.

The Vikings' offseason headlines were dominated by players leaving: Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Za'Darius Smith, Patrick Peterson. But the mass exodus has opened many lanes for new contributors on this year's team. In addition to cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., one of the team's first free-agency signings of the offseason, here are six new names you'll see in big roles in purple.

Marcus Davenport, outside linebacker

Davenport, a former first-round pick by the Saints, will be leaned upon heavily by the Vikings after signing a one-year deal worth up to $13 million in free agency. He's the first Viking to wear No. 0, a new option under NFL rules, which he said represents a "new frontier." He's a special athlete at 6-6 and 265 pounds, but Davenport struggled to finish plays and seasons in New Orleans, where he had 0.5 sack last year and had a career-high 50.5% playing time. "I've got to win more, and I've got to finish," he said. "Taking those opportunities and not hesitating as much. That's one thing I like about here, we're trying to attack."

Jordan Addison, wide receiver

Addison, the 23rd overall pick in this year's draft, replaces Thielen in the lineup. He's expected to immediately have a role in three-receiver sets if not an every-down role as the second option opposite Justin Jefferson. He's the team's youngest player at 21 years old and the lightest, listed at 175 pounds on a 5-11 frame. That didn't stop Addison from making impressive catches in training camp that showed standout potential. "I don't shy away from nothing," Addison said. "They already count me out just because they think I'm too small, so I'm just showing the smallest guys be the toughest."

Josh Oliver, tight end

Oliver, the Vikings' top free-agent addition on offense, was a blocking tight end from the Ravens. And that's what Minnesota is paying the 26-year-old Oliver to do on a three-year deal worth up to $21 million ($8.2 million guaranteed). He's listed at 6-5 and 259 pounds, all of which boosted Baltimore's perennially potent run game. "Teams generally think they have a win [against a tight end], particularly these 3-4 teams with these big outside linebackers," offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said. "... He's big, he's strong, he's physical, he's athletic. He's shown in the pass game he's got really good hands."

Dean Lowry, defensive lineman

Lowry, 29, crossed the St. Croix River after seven seasons and 80 starts for the Packers. He's expected to start with defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and nose tackle Khyiris Tonga in new coordinator Brian Flores' 3-4 front. "Re-energizing," Lowry said after signing a two-year deal worth up to $8.5 million. "I've had just so much respect for the Vikings and the way they do things. This past year you could just tell the difference and feel with the team when Coach [Kevin] O'Connell got there."

Mekhi Blackmon, cornerback

Blackmon, a third-round pick out of USC, is on the older side for a rookie at 24 years old, and he has been called mature by coaches and teammates. He quickly passed Andrew Booth Jr., a 2022 second-round pick, on the depth chart this summer and took the bulk of first-team reps when Flores deployed three corners in training camp. "Mekhi has done good with his opportunities," Flores said. "He asks a lot of questions. He tries to execute the technique and fundamentals ... If he continues on this trajectory, he'll set himself up for some playing time."

Brandon Powell, receiver/returner

Powell, the 5-8 journeyman, is on his sixth NFL team, but he quickly made the Vikings roster after signing a one-year deal. He's an experienced returner — punts and kickoffs — and is familiar with O'Connell after spending two seasons with the Rams. "It really helps my chances having K.O. believe in me, and me already knowing his offense," Powell said. "I also feel the talent here is better than we had in L.A. when we won the Super Bowl."