3 hidden gems on the Minnesota Vikings roster

Sports

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings’ success in 2021 will be driven by bigger names, but these three players are hidden gems on their roster.

If the Minnesota Vikings are going to get back to the playoffs this year, or even win the Super Bowl, it will be because stars on both sides of the ball were healthy and highly productive. But success is reinforced by depth, as injuries inevitably come to test how teams have constructed their roster and who will replace injured players.

Some injuries (Kirk Cousins) would be more devastating than others for the Vikings this season, though rookie Kellen Mond may be able to step in and hold down the fort. Mond, based purely on talent, is an upgrade over the likes of Sean Mannion, Nate Stanley and Jake Browning.

The Vikings have made moves to improve the defense this offseason, and the offense should remain very productive behind what can only be an improved line. But these three players are hidden gems on the roster, and each guy’s role could be very important.

3 hidden gems on the Minnesota Vikings roster

3. RB Alexander Mattison

Dalvin Cook is one of the best running backs in the NFL, and the centerpiece of a Vikings’ offense built around the ground game. But he’s also got a tendency to get banged up, with at least two missed game in each of his four NFL seasons.

Mattison has been Cook’s backup over the last two seasons. He has gotten double-digit carries in a game eight times over that span, with over 55 yards in six of them. In three double-digit carry games last season, the 2019 third-round pick out of Boise State had 95 or more yards twice and at least 69 yards three times.

If he were pressed into duty as the Vikings’ lead back for a length of time in place of Cook, Mattison seems to have some untapped potential as a pass catcher (9.0 yards per catch over his two seasons). The wisdom of giving Cook a big second contract can be questioned when the Vikings have Mattison behind him.

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