The Vikings drafted a seven-round record 15 players back in the spring and expected that a majority of those players would be called on to contribute in their first NFL season.
That's certainly been the case about halfway through the 2020 season, as 10 of those players have seen notable playing time thus far.
A pair of those players — one on offense and one on defense — were recently highlighted for their strong starts to their NFL careers, as Justin Jefferson and D.J. Wonnum were named to Dane Brugler's Midseason All-Rookie Team.
Brugler, a draft analyst for The Athletic, noted that it's "halftime of the 2020 NFL season, giving us a larger sample size to evaluate the league's rookies."
Jefferson was Brugler's first choice at wide receiver. The first-round pick leads the Vikings and all rookies with 563 receiving yards. He has 31 catches and three touchdowns.
Analysts like me labeled this past wide receiver draft class as historic and [the players] haven't disappointed as rookies. Cincinnati's Tee Higgins has emerged as [Joe] Burrow's top target and leads all rookies in first-down catches (27). The Steelers Chase Claypool leads all first-year players in touchdowns and has yet to record a drop. The 49ers Brandon Aiyuk is on his way to becoming a star in San Francisco. And if Dak Prescott were healthy, CeeDee Lamb might be the easy choice. But Jefferson has been the most impactful and productive of the group.
The fifth receiver drafted, Jefferson leads all rookies in receiving yards (563), yards after the catch (199) and yards per catch (18.2), accounting for 25 percent of the Vikings receptions (no other rookie is better than 17.6 percent). On 40 targets, he has just one drop and has squashed any concern about him thriving as an outside receiver (only 32.5 percent of his snaps have come from the slot).
Claypool was the runner-up on Brugler's team behind Jefferson.
Wonnum, meanwhile, was the runner-up at the defensive end spot behind Washington's Chase Young, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Tied for second among rookies with a pair of sacks, Wonnum has been a valuable role player for the Vikings off the bench. Three of his eight total tackles have been for loss, and he made the best play of his young career on Sunday with a strip sack of Aaron Rodgers late in the fourth quarter to put an exclamation point on Minnesota's upset win in Green Bay.
Wonnum was the 117th overall pick (fourth round) out of South Carolina. He played a career-high 37 defensive snaps against the Packers in Week 8.
Minnesota was one of four teams — along with Kansas City, Jacksonville and Indianapolis — to have multiple players highlighted by Brugler.
QBs spotlighted in Vikings-Lions divisional matchup
There will be plenty of notable names on display in Sunday's Week 9 clash between the Vikings and Lions.
Dalvin Cook is coming off the most prolific game of his career and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, while Detroit's Adrian Peterson and Everson Griffen are fired up to play against their former team.
But there should also be plenty of focus on the quarterbacks Sunday, according to ESPN's Courtney Cronin and Michael Rothstein. Cronin covers the Vikings for the outlet, while Rothstein is on the Lions beat.
The duo recently broke down Sunday's matchup, with Cronin noting that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's status remains up in the air heading into the weekend.
Who's going to suit up at quarterback for the Lions after Stafford was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Tuesday? While coach Matt Patricia would not speculate about the QB's status, it's possible Stafford plays in Week 9 if he continues to test negative every day this week. If not, it'll be Chase Daniel or David Blough under center. Since Stafford was drafted by Detroit in 2009, the Lions are 5-22 (.185) when he doesn't start, including 0-8 last season.
Stafford, who is 8-11 in his career against the Vikings, has thrown for 1,916 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 94.8 this season.
Rothstein believes the quarterback on the opposing sideline — Vikings starter Kirk Cousins — is primed to have another big day against Detroit's defense.
Cousins continues his dominance over Patricia's Lions with a 275-yard, three-touchdown day in which he completes 75% of his passes. Last year, Cousins threw for 580 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions against Detroit, and he has yet to have a game under 70-percent completions against the Lions since Patricia took over in 2018.
Cousins' big day against the Lions in Week 7 of the 2019 season — 338 passing yards with four scores and a 141.5 passer rating — helped the quarterback win NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors in October.
The quarterback has completed 124 of 189 passes (65.6 percent) for 1,635 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020. Cousins, whose passer rating is 91.9, is a perfect 4-0 in his Vikings career against the Lions.
Cronin (28-20) and Rothstein (31-23) each predicted an eight-point victory for the Vikings.
Vikings Postgame LIVE
After every Vikings game this season, make sure to log onto the team's digital and social platforms to watch Vikings Postgame Live, a new streaming postgame show that will provide fans with highlights, postgame sound from Head Coach Mike Zimmer and players, analysis and much more.