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Lunchbreak: Patrick Jones II Tabbed as Vikings Rookie to Watch in Camp

The Vikings have reported to U.S. Bank Vikings Training Camp.

Minnesota will hold its first full-team practice this afternoon, but rookies and select players were on the field for limited practices on Monday and Tuesday.

The extra sessions help give the young players a chance to ease into camp, as there is certainly a jump between college and the NFL.

Which rookies will draft expert Daniel Jeremiah have his eyes on?

Jeremiah recently went through all 32 rosters and picked out a rookie from each team that he is intrigued by.

And when it came to the Vikings, Jeremiah told co-host Bucky Brooks on their “Move the Sticks” podcast that he wants to see how a certain defensive lineman fares in camp.

"A little bit off script here, but defensive end Patrick Jones II, a third-round pick out of Pittsburgh," Jeremiah said.

Jeremiah noted that he liked Jones' play during the season but had a few question marks about him as the 2021 NFL Draft drew near.

"I want to see him because he was someone I was very high on through the tape [evaluations]," Jeremiah said. "But then as he went to the Senior Bowl, I did not think he had a great week there. I didn't think he worked out very well.

"So I have kind of the offseason stuff to impact my opinion on him," Jeremiah added. "But I'm curious. I'm curious to see if something has changed."

Brooks noted that some players take a little time in adjusting to the speed of the NFL.

"It's tough going to figure out which guy is going to show up," Brooks said. "Will it be the guy who was underwhelming at the [Senior Bowl]? Or is it the guy we saw most of the time [at Pittsburgh?]"

The Vikings selected Jones in the third round with the 90th overall pick in the draft.

He started all 11 games for Pittsburgh at defensive end in 2020. He racked up 44 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks and a fumble recovery.

Jones' sacks total led the ACC and ranked fifth in the nation, and his 22 career sacks rank 12th all-time in program history.

Jeremiah and Brooks tabbed quarterback Justin Fields as the rookie to watch in Chicago. The duo went with a pair of wide receivers around the rest of the division in fourth-rounder Amon-Ra St. Brown (Lions) and third-rounder Amari Rodgers (Packers).

For more on Jones' potential impact in 2021, check out this in-depth piece from earlier this summer.

Frelund: Smith, Jr., could be most-improved player on Vikings roster

While plenty of eyes will be on Jones and the rest of the rookies, the Vikings will also look for improvement throughout the rest of the roster, too,

That includes third-year tight end Irv Smith, Jr., who could be in line for his best season yet.

Cynthia Frelund, an analytics expert with NFL Network, recently selected one player from each NFC team that could be the most-improved player on their respective team in 2021.

Frelund went with Smith, who was a 2019 second-round pick out of Alabama.

She wrote:

On just 43 targets last season, Smith notched five touchdowns. Now that Kyle Rudolph is a Giant, the 22-year-old will have the opportunity to absorb some of the veteran's 37 targets from last season. The story for Smith is his red-area efficiency, both on and off the ball. With an improved O-line, it's very conceivable that Kirk Cousins will look to Smith even more in the red zone, which means he's one I am already circling for fantasy purposes this season. He will very likely land among my top 10 TEs come late August.

Smith has put up solid numbers in his first two seasons in the league, catching 66 passes for 676 yards and seven scores.

He'll have a chance to leave his imprint on the Vikings offense this year, too, as he is viewed as the Vikings No. 1 tight end on the roster.