PFF names two unexpected Vikings as Year 3 breakout candidates

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When compiling a list for biggest Year 3 breakout candidates, Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner decided to double dip with the Minnesota Vikings.

At first glance, it isn’t a surprise considering a change in regime has brought in a new era for the underachieving NFL franchise. There are sure to be some players that thrive with the arrival of Kevin O’Connell as the new head coach.

But things do get a bit interesting when seeing the actual names revealed on the list. For the Vikings, the players Renner believes could be poised for a breakout season are offensive guard Ezra Cleveland and cornerback Cameron Dantzler.

Dantzler is a great choice on this list considering he has basically faded into the background with the team going out and spending a second-round pick to select Andrew Booth Jr. in the 2022 NFL draft.

He isn’t going to give up that starting job across from Patrick Peterson so easily. With Booth also working his way back from injuries, there’s a bit of uncertainty that the rookie will emerge as an immediate contributor for the Vikings in his first NFL season.

This is a perfect opportunity for Dantzler to prove he’s capable of serving as a permanent fixture in the defensive backfield.

And Cleveland can do the same along the offensive front.

There have been some concerns at the interior positions of the line, most notably right guard and center. Cleveland has clearly flown under the radar despite coming off a pretty good season at left guard. Perhaps the second-round draft pick out of Boise State can take things to another level in an O’Connell-led offense.

The Vikings can only hope for a major step forward for both players on a rebooted team that’ll need all of the help it can get in 2022.

List

One rookie from each NFL team who will surprise in 2022