5 breakout stars to watch for the Minnesota Vikings in 2021
If the Minnesota Vikings are going to return to the playoffs in 2021, these five potential breakout players will surely have had a significant hand in it.
After missing the playoffs last season, 2021 looks like a make-or-break year for Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman. The “Kirk Cousins Era” hasn’t really gone as expected, with one playoff berth in three seasons. But they are practically married to Cousins for two more years now, with his 2022 base salary becoming guaranteed in late-March.
The Vikings should have a better defense this year, with key players back healthy and the free agent signings that were made. The draft should bring a focus on the offense, particularly the offensive line. That said, the 14th overall pick could be used on an edge rusher.
If the Vikings are going to make a return to the playoffs, a lot of improvement will come internally. With that in mind, here are five breakout candidates to watch for Minnesota in 2021.
A second-round pick out of Boise State in 2020 and a tackle by trade, Cleveland started nine games at right guard as a rookie. He wasn’t flawless, but he also wasn’t that bad all things considered. Given the start of the Vikings’ interior offensive line, he was practically a stud.
Depending on how the rest of the offensive line takes shape, Cleveland could stay inside at right guard, kick out to right tackle and possibly even move over to left tackle this year. A move to right tackle would mean Brian O’Neill is shifting over to left tackle, a move that seems inevitable but might be a little early to happen.
No matter where he lines up, Cleveland will have a starting spot on the Vikings’ offensive line. That alone makes a step up in performance during his second season very important.