Projections and rankings are all well and good, but it's impossible to tell exactly how young players will pan out in the league until they have at least a season – and sometimes a few – under their belt.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently looked at 10 players who experienced growing pains as rookies and "are under pressure to perform" in Year 2. While PFF's Sam Monson didn't include any Vikings on this list, he covered several players Minnesota is slated to play against this season.
Coming in second on Monson's list was Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, whom the Vikings are scheduled to host Week 13. Monson wrote:
Wilson has a rocket arm, and for people that buy into the physical upside above all else, Wilson's ceiling was higher than [Trevor] Lawrence's.
Unfortunately, he posted a similarly disappointing rookie season, recording a 59.3 overall PFF grade. Wilson averaged 6.1 yards per attempt and also threw more turnovers than touchdowns while also missing some time due to injury. Like Lawrence, Wilson rarely flashed the potential that made him such an enticing prospect, as he accumulated a 2.5 [percent] big-time throw rate — 30thin the NFL.
The Jets have continued to build around him this offseason, drafting a new No. 1 receiver in Garrett Wilson as well as adding more talent to the offensive line in free agent Laken Tomlinson. Wilson now has a good supporting cast, which shifts the pressure to him to prove he can take advantage and showcase his talent.
Monson also spotlighted Vikings 2022 opponents in Bears quarterback Justin Fields, whom the Vikings will play twice as a division rival, Dolphins edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis, Giants receiver Kadarius Toney and Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins.
Arizona raised eyebrows when it drafted an off-the-ball linebacker in the first round for the second year in a row last year, and it didn't help matters when Collins struggled to see the field all season, playing just 228 snaps, including the playoffs. To his credit, Collins didn't play poorly when he was on the field, earning a 66.5 PFF grade and showing up on special teams as well, but any first-round linebacker needs to show he can be an every-down force to justify that kind of investment, which will be Collins' task as a sophomore.
The Athletic breaks down Brian Asamoah game film
One of the more intriguing rookies on Minnesota's roster this season is linebacker Brian Asamoah.
Asamoah, whom the Vikings drafted 66th overall, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 226 pounds and garnered attention as part of Oklahoma's defense.
Arif Hasan of The Athletic recently delved into Asamoah’s game film and evaluated the 22-year-old. He wrote:
He is reminiscent of the hybrid safety/linebacker that has become a trend of sorts around the league, with players like Mark Barron, Telvin Smith, Shaq Thompson, Landon Collins, Jamal Adams, Terrell Edmunds, Kyle Dugger and Tanner Muse all playing that role to some degree.
Vikings [General Manager] Kwesi Adofo-Mensah mentioned another such player he was familiar with from his time with the Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Owusu-Koramoah was a second-round pick in 2021 who was a unanimous All-American at Notre Dame, won the Butkus Award as college football's best linebacker and was rated the consensus 17th-best player in the draft.
Hasan noted that Asamoah was ranked by the consensus big board as the 88th best player in this year's draft. Though Hasan acknowledged that there are "limits" when making these types of comparisons, he believes "the Vikings are comfortable with lighter, faster linebackers as they perceive that the NFL will be heading in this direction."
Hasan used a combo of analytics and film review to assess Asamoah's athletic profile, run defense profile and coverage profile. We'll recap the athletic breakdown below, but click here to read Hasan's full evaluation of the rookie linebacker.
There's no question that Asamoah knows how to move. His size-adjusted speed is well above average for an NFL linebacker, and he's a top-level straight-line athlete. Beyond that, he's younger than most linebackers entering the NFL.
Hasan said it's "tough to get a full read" since Asamoah did not participate in agility drills at the NFL Scouting Combine or at Oklahoma's Pro Day.
His transition speed (20-yard split) is elite, and his explosion is above average. His height and weight are well below the NFL average at linebacker, but he does have much better arm length than one would expect for his height, which may allow him to interfere in passing lanes. Overall, this is an even-to-positive profile for a linebacker, and if we inputted average agility drills into his profile, he would have a slightly above-average overall score.
Those agility scores can be important, though, and it's important that in some critical measures — like size-adjusted 10-yard split — he's about at the NFL average. His raw 10-yard split score was in the 67thpercentile among draftable linebackers this year, but when adjusted for his size — smaller players are likely to run faster — he's about average.
Generally speaking, he's an athletic player with some unique workouts. But his athletic profile is incomplete, and size remains a big concern. If he had been more productive on the field, that would have made a better case for a solid analytical profile. As it stands, he has a mixed profile as a run defender and looks weaker as a coverage defender.