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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Evaluates Vikings 'Stock Report'

While Vikings players are enjoying their break between the offseason program and the start of training camp, The Athletic's Alec Lewis on Thursday posted his "Vikings stock report."

Lewis explained which players he believes raised their stock and which lowered it during the offseason program.

He listed the following names as "up" after minicamp: safety Josh Metellus, wide receiver Jalen Nailor, tight end Josh Oliver, cornerback Mekhi Blackmon, linebacker Jordan Hicks, receiver K.J. Osborn and new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores. Lewis wrote the following of Metellus, whom also spotlighted in Wednesday's 10 Takeaways article:

Metellus might have played more 11-on-11 snaps with the presumed No. 1s than any other Vikings player who did not start last season. His inclusion makes sense, starting with his size. Metellus stands 5 feet 11 and weighs 207 pounds. One-time New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung was similarly sized and carved out a safety/linebacker role, where he essentially roved the middle of the field. When needed, Chung blitzed. Other times, he retreated into coverage. Considering Metellus' role as a special teams captain — he unearthed a shift in special teams cadence against the Dolphins last season, leading to a stifled fake punt — he makes sense as the perfect candidate for this role. Because he rarely played defensive snaps last season, it's easy to frame Metellus as trending upward.

View exclusive black-and-white photos from OTAs and Minicamp, shot by Vikings Team Photographer Andy Kenutis.

When it comes to Nailor, Lewis has been impressed by the second-year wideout's precision.

His routes this spring constantly matched the quarterback's timing, arriving at the necessary spot when the offense needed him to be there. That's crucial for receivers in [Head Coach] Kevin O'Connell's offense. The speed? That's always going to exist. He once clocked a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash. Chiseling down his route running has been and continues to be his focus, and as the Vikings think forward to K.J. Osborn's looming free agency after this season, Nailor's showing bodes well.

Interesting to note is Lewis' thoughts on Hicks, whom he said "looked faster" in OTAs and minicamp.

His fitness has never been an issue. Nor has his drive. Hicks is well respected around the league for the way he operates. One play, though, defined his spring. He traveled out to the flat and broke up a pass, fist-pumping afterward, yelling and celebrating with many of the young defenders. Given the departures of Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson and others, Hicks will step into a major leadership role within the locker room. He knows what that means and how much it's his role to set the tone.

Honorable mentions for "risers" according to Lewis were cornerback Akayleb Evans, fullback C.J. Ham, linebacker Brian Asamoah II and wide receiver Brandon Powell.

To see his full list, including those players Lewis believes lowered their stock, click here.


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Jefferson & Darrisaw among CBS Sports' 'best bargain' players

CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin recently tabbed "best bargains at premium positions," pointing out which teams are getting the best deals at quarterback, wide receiver, left tackle, edge rusher and cornerback.

Two Vikings made the list: wide receiver Justin Jefferson and left tackle Christian Darrisaw.

Jefferson joined Mike Evans (Bucs), Ja'Marr Chase (Bengals) and Jaylen Waddle (Dolphins) in the wideout group. Benjamin wrote:

If anyone has a case to become the NFL's highest-paid non-QB, it's probably "Jets," who's been a bona fide No. 1 since Day 1 but now deserves MVP consideration as the Vikings offensive catalyst. Fresh off a 1,800-yard season with more room for growth, Jefferson is smooth and self-motivated, and his pocketbook should soon confirm him as a face of the league. For now, he technically earns less per year than teammates Jalen Reagor and Jordan Addison, who's yet to take an NFL snap.

Darrisaw, Jordan Mailata (Eagles), Andrew Thomas (Giants) and Rashawn Slater (Chargers) were the tackles highlighted by Benjamin.

Like Andrew Thomas, [Darrisaw] took a big leap in 2022, proving a reliable anchor for one of the NFL's more explosive offenses. His pass pro helped fuel the Kirk Cousins-Jefferson connection that got Minnesota to a surprising 13 wins.

At quarterback, Benjamin mentioned Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), Jordan Love (Packers), Joe Burrow (Bengals) and Justin Herbert (Chargers). Edge rushers were Haason Reddick (Eagles), Trey Hendrickson (Bengals), Nick Bosa (49ers) and Alex Highsmith (Steelers). And last but not least, Benjamin noted cornerbacks Sauce Gardner (Jets), Patrick Peterson (Steelers), Patrick Surtain II (Broncos) and Trevon Diggs (Cowboys).

Peterson signed with Pittsburgh after playing the past two seasons for the Vikings.

Entering his age-33 season, the longtime Cardinals star isn't necessarily a lockdown starter anymore, but his two-year Vikings run proved he's still got timely ball skills. Now alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick, he's primed to be a steal of a rental in Steel City.