The Minnesota Vikings have undergone quite a few changes on both sides of the ball this offseason. Of course, the most notable move that the Vikings made was the trade that sent Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills.
After parting ways with Diggs, Minnesota selected Justin Jefferson with the No. 22 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Even as a rookie, Jefferson is expected to assume the No. 2 wide receiver role alongside Adam Thielen.
On the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota lost a handful of key contributors in free agency. Altogether, the Vikings witnessed Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander, and Trae Waynes. Not to mention, Everson Griffen is probably going to sign elsewhere in free agency.
Minnesota is unquestionably going to need some players to step up in the upcoming season if they hope to return to the playoffs. In light of that, let’s take a deeper look at three potential breakout players for the Vikings in the 2020 NFL season.
3. Irv Smith Jr.
Once again, the Vikings moved on from Diggs, trading him to the Buffalo Bills for a slew of draft picks. While Jefferson figures to slot into Diggs’ spot on offense, Minnesota is going to need more than just one player to replace his production.
With that in mind, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. could see expanded roles in the passing attack in 2020. We know how talented Rudolph is, but Smith — as he enters his second season in the NFL — is expected to make positive progress next season.
In his rookie campaign with the Vikings, Smith hauled in 36 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers should see an increase due to likely receiving more targets in Minnesota’s offense.
2. Ifeadi Odenigbo
The Vikings are undoubtedly going to look a bit different on the defensive side of the ball in 2020. Despite Griffen and Minnesota not ruling out a reunion this offseason, it seems reasonable to believe that he’ll be in a different uniform next season.
In the event that Griffen doesn’t return, Ifeadi Odenigbo is gearing up to have a prominent role in Minnesota’s defense. Odenigbo, a seventh-round pick for the Vikings in the 2017 NFL Draft, flashed upside in a limited role in 2019.
This past season, Odenigbo tallied seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits despite being a rotational edge rusher. While Danielle Hunter has cemented himself as a premier pass rusher in the NFL, the Vikings will need Odenigbo to contribute immediately next season.
1. Mike Hughes
Besides the losses on the defensive line, the Vikings took a massive hit to their secondary this offseason. As a matter of fact, Minnesota lost their top three cornerbacks from a season ago in Rhodes, Alexander, and Waynes.
With the secondary seeing a bevy of changes, Mike Hughes is going to be thrust into a starting role in 2020. Just two years ago, Hughes was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Throughout his first two seasons, Hughes has combined for 12 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. Seeing that Minnesota’s overhauled the secondary, Hughes can prove why he was the No. 30 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.