Thursday, May 19, 2022

Four Potential Breakout Candidates for the 21-22 Season

Every year players will either preform to expectations, preform under their expectations, or will completely surpass what anyone expected from them. I have compiled a list of a few players on the Vikings squad who I believe have a solid chance to break out. 

Garrett Bradbury, C

Starting off HOT, I have to 2019 first round selection, Garrett Bradbury. While many people are ready to give up on Bradbury, with a new regime there is potential for Bradbury to become a solid starter for us. Bradbury has underperformed at the center position, especially considering the first-round price tag and expectations he came into the league with. Coach Kevin O'Connell is actually quite familiar with undersized (6'2",300) underperforming play at the center position with Rams current starter Brain Allen. Similar to Bradbury, many in the Rams community had little belief in Brain Allen prior to 2021. This past season he posted a solid 5 sacks allowed in 567 pass-blocking snaps for an 80.2 PFF grade (87.4 run blocking, 63.5 pass blocking) and could expect a decent pay day when free agency hits.

With the Vikings not picking up Bradbury's 5th year option, hopefully that lights a fire in Bradbury, and we see him play at a level that we haven't seen before. 

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR

We have seen very little from Ihmir Smith-Marsette this past year due to the combination of the emergence of KJ Osborn as the WR #3 and the Vikings playing a ton of ball out of 21 and 22 personnel, but the times we did see him he played very well. Ihmir is mostly a vertical threat player and if you look at the Vikings WR room, they lack a true burner. With the lack of vertical threat ability and a new offense that will showcase many more 11 and 12 personnel and multiple WR sets, we can expect to see a lot more of Ihmir this season. 

Irv Smith Jr., TE 

One of the biggest question marks about this Vikings offense is how Irv Smith Jr. will perform coming off a season ending knee injury. Leaving the 2019 draft, the player I was the most interested about was Irv Smith Jr. due to his athletic ability at the TE position (which was exciting after watching Kyle Rudolph for many years). Irv has had a mostly quiet start to his career due to injury and lack of use but that is expected to change going into this season. Similar to everyone else on this list, Irv should benefit greatly due to a change of pace on offense that will help him use his athleticism to his advantage by creating mismatches in the 2nd and 3rd level of opposing defenses. KOC also went on record yesterday saying. "He's going to be a major part of what we do". Expect big things from #84 this upcoming season. 

Cameron Dantzler, CB

Cam Dantzler has some great tools at his disposal to be a very good CB in this league. Dantzler stands at 6'2" 190 lbs. and was the Vikings third round selection in 2020. Entering his 3rd year in the league, it is put-up or shut-up time for The Needle. He is operating out of a difficult Ed Donatell defense which can be tricky and very demanding for corners, but Dantzler has been learning under the guidance of Patrick Peterson for over a year now and what he has learned should translate to on the field play. With the addition of 2nd round pick Andrew Booth Jr., Dantzler has some serious competition for that outside corner spot and has to preform if he intends on staying the starter for this season. Since Dantzler has not had much competition since he arrived, this is a good test for him to see how he performs under pressure with a young and hungry rookie on his heels. 

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