- Who on the Vikings was most impressive during Friday’s game?
Danielle Hunter — In just over a quarter of action, Hunter is proving to be what we all thought he was. After an impressive 12.5 sack sophomore campaign, he has continued to build off that momentum.
Playing only 16 snaps in the game, Hunter terrorized the Seahawks offensive tackles. The former 2015 third-round selection was making plays all over the field and seemed to be unblockable. His continued progress and upside is phenomenal.
Jaleel Johnson — After a poor NFL combine, Johnson’s draft stock took a bit of a hit. If you turn the film on, the former Hawkeye was outstanding. What he showed in his collegiate career was once again on full display lastnight.
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson finished with a 90.4 grade against the run, which was always the trait that was most dominant for him.
He flashed some, generating a pass-rush, but those times he just didn’t finish the play. Look for Johnson to see an increase in earlier reps throughout the final two pre-season contests.
Dalvin Cook — Special. That’s the one word to describe Cook. In just his second career NFL start, he averaged 5.7 yards-per carry. An impressive feat, Cook still looks as if the game is moving a bit fast for him as he missed some cuts on occasions.
What you did see was the burst, vision and natural running ability from the rookie. The Vikings offense is clearly looking to feature him early and often, and to this point Cook has not disappointed.
Tashawn Bower — A true diamond in the rough, it seems as if the team may have stumbled upon and luckily discovered another raw LSU pass rusher. Bower consistently gave the Seahawks offensive tackles fits.
Down-in and down-out, Bower was held to no avail, as the referees missed a few holding calls. His motor is always running flaming hot. His effort, understanding of Mike Zimmer’s scheme, and techniques that defensive line coach Andre Patterson wants him to use has helped him pencil in his spot on the final 53-man roster.
Pat Elflein — His first career start was a successful one, as Elflein cleared many running lanes and created a consistent pocket for QB Sam Bradford. He did allow one pressure though that resulted in a QB hit.
His bulldog mentality, technical skills, and understanding of hand placement has helped Elflein potentially jump into the pole position as the teams Week 1 starter at center.
Lastnight’s effort was the best the Vikings offensive line has looked in quite some time. Engineered by Elflein, he was repeatedly pointing his counterparts in the right direction — setting protections and directing others where to go in the running game. That’s exactly what you want to see from a young center.
- What were you most disappointed about?
Defensive Backs — Early and often the defensive backs struggled. From Newman getting a holding call on the first play of their opening drive, to Mackensie Alexander’s struggles in the slot/nickel, it may possibly be time for the team to entertain some veteran cornerbacks on the free agent market.
Trae Waynes’ status on his injured shoulder is considered to not be serious, but Newman’s struggles in training camp have translated to the field and it is concerning.
Tom Johnson — Everyone knows that the run defense was a serious question mark coming into the season. Johnson is best suited as a three-technique on passing downs because those are the situations he thrives in.
Constantly getting pushed back by double teams opened up running lanes for Seattle’s rushing attack. With the emergence of Jaleel Johnson, it would be nice to see that spot become a true open competition.
Danny Isidora — After an impressive showing last week against the Buffalo Bills, the second and third-team offensive line had an up-and-down performance. Isidora seemed to be a bit out of sorts. Using bad technique and constantly being off balance were the two biggest concerns.
Things seemed to be moving too fast for him and he went back to some bad tendencies that he had pre-draft after showing improvements in that area a week ago.
- Other thoughts
— The team has yet to find a consistent kickoff returner. All of the vying contestants have not separated themselves from one another especially with Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley each making mistakes.
— Whether it’s Leon Hall or another veteran cornerback on the open market, it’s time to seriously consider bringing in depth.
— Neither Case Keenum nor Taylor Heinicke did anything to distance themselves in the race for the backup QB spot.
— It was nice to see Bucky Hodges haul in a touchdown grab. If they continue to flex him out as a receiving target, they will most likely continue to see positive results.
For NFL news and draft analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout.