Despite injuries decimating their offensive line and hurting them in other places, the Minnesota Vikings got almost nothing from their rookie class and first-year players.
According to the statistics by Pro Football Reference, the Vikings got only two starts among their rookie class and first-year players, easily the lowest starting contribution in the league. For an organization that prides itself on trying to build through the draft and considering the injuries they suffered, that doesn’t bode well.
General manager Rick Spielman has come under increasing scrutiny among fans. The fact that first-round receiver Laquon Treadwell was only able to crack the starting lineup for one game and fourth-round guard/tackle Willie Beavers didn’t earn any starting opportunities despite an incredible amount of injuries on the offensive line didn’t help Spielman’s standing among a fan base that felt the sting of an 8-8 season that started with such high hopes.
Treadwell could have earned some opportunities to start with the uncertain situation at receiver to start the season. Instead, it was Charles Johnson who started the season alongside Stefon Diggs. Johnson ended up making seven starts and Adam Thielen, not Treadwell, was the player that eventually took over Johnson’s starting spot. Diggs also missed three games due to injury, but Treadwell only ended up playing 80 snaps on offense.
As it turned out, Treadwell’s 80 snaps, which accounted for less than 8 percent of the offensive plays, were the most of any of the rookies.
Beavers took only 11 snaps on the offensive line, despite the Vikings going through eight different starting combinations on the line because of injuries that continuously kept the rotation in flux.
In addition to Treadwell’s one start – he ended the season with only one catch – safety Jayron Kearse was the only other rookie to make a start. Rookies Stephen Weatherly and C.J. Ham never saw the field.
According to Pro Football Reference, the two starts made by Vikings rookies and first-year players were easily the lowest in the NFL. Cincinnati was next with six starts and no other team had fewer than 15 starts by their rookie and first-year players.
While the natural assumption would be to think that better teams don’t get many starts from their rookie class, four of the top 10 teams in that category were in the playoffs, including the Atlanta Falcons, the NFC participant in Sunday’s Super Bowl. The Falcons had 51 starts made by seven rookie and first-year players. New England, the AFC’s representative in the Super Bowl, got 35 starts from nine different rookie and first-year players, tied for 16th.
VIKINGS ROOKIE/FIRST-YEAR SNAPS COUNTS
|Off||Off %||Def||Def %||ST||ST %|
NFL ROOKIE/FIRST-YEAR STARTS
|Rank||Team||Starts||Players||Eight-plus starts (round)|
|1||Cleveland||82||16||4 — DE Emmanuel Ogbah (second), 16; WR Corey Coleman (first), 10; G Spencer Drango (fifth), 9; QB Cody Kessler (third), 8.|
|2||Chicago||73||10||4 — G Cody Whitehair (second), 16; RB Jordan Howard (fifth), 13; LB Leonard Floyd (first), 12; CB Cre'Von LeBlanc (UDFA), 9.|
|3||Dallas||58||6||4 — QB Dak Prescott (fourth), 16; RB Ezekiel Elliott (first), 15; DT Maliek Collins (third), 14; CB Anthony Brown (sixth), 10.|
|3||Indianapolis||58||10||3 — C Ryan Kelly (first), 16; OT Joe Haeg (fifth), 14; LB Edwin Jackson (UDFA), 8.|
|5||Jacksonville||56||7||3 — CB Jalen Ramsey (first), 16; DE Yannick Ngakoue (third), 15; LB Myles Jack (second), 10.|
|6||Atlanta||51||7||4 — S Keanu Neal (first), 14; LB Deion Jones (second), 13; LB De'Vondre Campbell (fourth), 10; CB Brian Poole (UDFA), 9.|
|7||N.Y. Giants||50||9||3 — WR Sterling Shepard (second), 16; S Andrew Adams (UDFA), 13; CB Eli Apple (first), 11.|
|7||N.Y. Jets||50||13||3 — LB Jordan Jenkins (third), 11; LB Darron Lee (first), 9; WR Robby Anderson (UDFA), 8.|
|9||Pittsburgh||46||8||4 — NT Jacon Hargrave (third), 13; CB Artie Burns (first), 9; S Sean Davis (second), 8; WR Eli Rogers (UDFA) 8.|
|10||L.A. Chargers||41||9||2 — DE Joey Bosa (first), 11; TE Hunter Henry (second), 10.|
|11||Oakland||40||7||2 — DE Jihad Ward (second), 13; S Karl Joseph (first), 9.|
|12||Detroit||38||6||2 — OT Taylor Decker (first), 16; G/C Graham Glasgow (third), 11.|
|13||Tennessee||37||6||2 — OT Jack Conklin (first), 16; WR Tajae Sharpe (fifth), 10.|
|13||New Orleans||37||8||2 — S Vonn Bell (second), 13; WR Michael Thomas (second), 12.|
|15||San Francisco||36||5||2 — DE DeForest Buckner (first), 15; G Joshua Garnett (first), 11.|
|16||Baltimore||35||7||3 — OT Ronnie Stanley (first), 12; CB Tavon Young (fourth), 11; G Alex Lewis (fourth), 8.|
|16||New England||35||9||1 — G Joe Thuney (third), 16.|
|18||Philadelphia||34||7||1 — QB Carson Wentz (first).|
|19||Houston||33||5||1 — WR Will Fuller (first), 13.|
|19||Seattle||33||6||2 — G Germain Ifedi (first), 13; OT George Fant (UDFA), 10.|
|21||Carolina||30||4||2 — CB James Bradberry (sixth), 13; CB Daryl Worley (third), 11.|
|21||Miami||30||5||1 — OT Laremy Tunsil (first), 14.|
|23||Arizona||29||7||1 — OT D.J. Humphries (first), 13.|
|23||Tampa Bay||29||5||1 — CB Vernon Hargreaves.|
|25||Kansas City||26||6||1 — DT Chris Jones (second), 11.|
|28||Washington||18||3||1 — RB Rob Kelley (UDFA), 9.|
|29||Green Bay||17||6||1 — LB Blake Martinez (fourth), 9.|
|30||Buffalo||15||3||1 — DT Adolphus Washington (third), 11.|
Starting stats via Pro Football Reference and compiled by Packer Report.