The Vikings Made It Clear This Offseason That They Believe In Brian Asamoah

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the dust has settled on the Minnesota Vikings’ offseason, we can see the full picture of what Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell sought to accomplish.

They targeted needs strategically while letting aging veterans with bloated contracts walk in free agency. Minnesota came into the offseason with enough needs that it probably was impossible to cover everything. But they prioritized what was most dire and tried to find talent and value.

Multiple new defensive backs came into the fold in Byron Murphy, Mekhi Blackmon, and Jay Ward. On Day 1 of the draft, they prioritized finding a new WR2 to play opposite Jefferson in Jordan Addison. They even filled out the tight end room with free agent Josh Oliver.

But for a team that saw a steep decline in play at linebacker with an aging Eric Kendricks and an uninspiring rotation beside him, the Vikings only made one move at off-ball linebacker this offseason. It was a low-cost, one-year deal with former Los Angeles Rams LB Troy Reeder and a couple of UDFAs.

The offseason plan makes it abundantly clear: The Vikings believe in Brian Asamoah.

And for good reason. The second year thumper from Oklahoma showed flashes in his rookie season of the type of player he could be in the future. And that player is really exciting.

Brian Asamoah didn’t see the field a ton as a rookie, and he made plenty of mistakes. But at least when my man makes a mistake, he’s making it going full speed. And that kind of explosion and hair-on-fire attitude is also how Asamoah quickly popped off the screen whenever he was in.

Asamoah is undersized and still a bit inexperienced, but his burst and tenacity more than make up for it. When he’s got an alley to come down hill, that space disappears real fast.

The play below is a perfect example:

I understand maybe I shouldn’t hype him up too much on a play where he kinda misses the tackle, but it’s his ability to take away that lane that forces the running back to stall out in traffic. If he were a step slower, the right tackle (No. 61) likely gets a piece of him, and that running back is hitting Asamoah’s gap for a much bigger play. But Asamoah blows past him before he ever gets a chance.

Asamoah showed he’s got the wheels to keep up in coverage and the attitude to play the position at a high level. And it’s his versatility and explosion that should have new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores salivating.

The clip below is an example of what I’m talking about:

Here Asamoah isn’t the one making the play, but after several blitzes from this position earlier in the game. Andrew Thomas has to account for him. And thanks to his ability in coverage, Asamoah is able to take the zone vacated by the blitzing Patrick Peterson without it being a total liability.

But enough about plays Asamoah didn’t make or set up others for. Let’s take another look at the play we all remember him for last year.

Asamoah may lose a step in coverage here, but he plays through the whistle with an awesome “peanut punch” to knock the ball loose and recovers it himself to boot. That’s the kind of splash play that gets fans excited.

And Asamoah also seems to be embracing the mental development of his game, and if that comes to fruition then he could be lights out this season. If he can combine knowing where to go with how fast he can get there, it’ll be a nightmare for offenses that like to play in space.

Brian Asamoah developed his game consistently behind the veterans last year, and is clearly poised to be the top linebacker in the rotation this season. He’s got the range and versatility to be a key cog in Flores’ defense. The Vikings have placed their bet on his potential, and I think it’s gonna cash.

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