ESPN Expert Reveals Two NFL Free Agents the Vikings Should Target; One You Might Know

Minnesota Vikings rumors, Adoree Jackson, Dalton Risner
Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The fast moving, wheeling and dealing segment of NFL free agency has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some good talent left out there on the market. And we’ve seen the Minnesota Vikings remain somewhat active, even striking when the moments were right, the most recent being tight end, Robert Tonyan.

Sure, the shiny, headline-catching names are mostly off the market. Still, there are quite a few dudes out there who would absolutely improve the Vikings’ roster, as the team gathers for voluntary OTAs today.

NFL Expert: Dalton Risner a perfect fit for Minnesota Vikings

Luckily, NFL expert Matt Bowen (ESPN) thinks he has two of them that would fit in Minnesota perfectly. One name may sound extremely familiar — cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and offensive guard Dalton Risner.

A return to Minnesota makes the most sense here for Risner, who logged a pass block win rate of 95.5% last season (fifth among guards) while allowing just two sacks. He can drop anchor in pass protection to close down interior rush lanes, and he displayed a rugged play style as a run-blocker in Kevin O’Connell’s offense. Minnesota currently has Blake Brandel and Ed Ingram slated to start.

Matt Bowen – NFL Writer and Analyst (ESPN+)

Well, this name shouldn’t come as a surprise to Vikings fans. Risner was picked up by the Vikings after week three of the 2023-24 NFL season when Oli Udoh went down with a season-ending injury. Shortly after, Left Guard Ezra Cleveland suffered an injury and Risner took over for the remainder of the season.

How good is/was Dalton Risner?

Risner performed relatively well for the Vikings last season. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), in the 12 games Risner played in for the Vikings, he allowed:

  • 0 sacks
  • 11 hits
  • 19 hurries
  • 30 pressures

Bowen states that Risner’s pass block win rate of 95.5% last season was fifth best among guards. Not only that, but the Vikings are a pass first team throwing well over 60% of the time last season.

Related: Minnesota Vikings Add to Their Tight End Collection

Right now, the job seems to be Blake Brandel’s. However, that doesn’t mean the Vikings can’t sign Risner but it’s widely believed that his “financial asking price” is what is hindering him from signing with the Vikings or any other team to that extent.

Who is Adoree’ Jackson?

Jackson might be a little more of an unknown to Vikings fans, but he’s spent seven years in the NFL. Four with the Tennessee Titans and three with the New York Giants.

The Vikings drafted cornerback Khyree Jackson out of Oregon in the fourth round of April’s draft. He’s long at 6-foot-4 and has the physical traits to challenge wide receivers. But there’s still a need to add cornerback depth for an aggressive defense under coordinator Brian Flores that will heat up the pocket.

Last season, Minnesota led the NFL with a blitz rate of 49.4%. That’s a combination of zone and man pressure, which fits the aggressive coverage traits and eyes of Adoree’ Jackson. Even with a lack of ball production (four career interceptions), Jackson can provide competition in the Minnesota secondary this summer, and the scheme can put him in a position to make plays.

Matt Bowen – NFL Writer and Analyst (ESPN+)

In his 2023 season with the Giants, according to PFF, Jackson finished with:

  • 63 tackles
  • 1 forced fumble
  • 1 interception
  • 8 passes defended
  • 792 snaps

Related: Oddsmakers Sure Like JJ McCarthy to Start Week 1 for Vikings

His PFF grades weren’t to great where he finished with:

  • 48.6 overall grade
  • 59.9 run defense grade
  • 50.1 pass rush grade
  • 45.9 coverage grade

Despite a subpar 2023 season with the Giants, Bowen thinks his veteran presence would be an excellent fit with the Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings are looking to shift to more of a man coverage type of defense this year. Moving away from zone defense. Bowen notes that his combination of zone and man pressure would be an excellent fit with what Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores will want to run this upcoming year in Minnesota.

Minnesota Vikings roster outlook for 2024

It’s still unclear whether the Vikings will sign either Risner or Jackson. However, with voluntary Organized Team Activities (OTAs) beginning this week, the Vikings will get a better since of how the roster will look and what positions they still need help with.

Related: T.J. Hockenson Expected to Miss Large Chunk of Vikings Season

If the Vikings do make a move, look for that to happen after OTAs or as we get closer to the regular season when the price of these free agent players begin to rapidly decrease, allowing teams more financial flexibility heading into the regular season.

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