Keenan McCardell Reportedly ‘Pounded Table’ for New Vikings WR

Keenan McCardell Reportedly 'Pounded Table' for New Vikings WR
Jalen Nailor

The Minnesota Vikings drafted a pass-catcher who will vie for a roster spot this summer, apparently at the behest of the team’s high-profile wide receivers coach.

The player is Jalen Nailor from Michigan State University, selected in Round 6 by new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Michigan State wide receiver Jalen Nailor/ Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.

At Michigan State last year, Nailor tallied 695 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Nicknamed “Speedy,” Nailor ran a 4.5 forty-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine. He also placed in the Top 10 among receivers in several drills at the event.

And that was evidently good enough for the Vikings draft radar, particularly Keenan McCardell, who joined the franchise in 2020. McCardell reportedly “banged the table” for Nailor, a popular expression for a coach or scout desiring a player or prospect.

The Vikings director of college scouting, Mike Sholiton, said about Nailor and McCardell, “We’re always looking for guys that can finish and score. I know Keenan was in there pounding the table for him.”

Sholiton also opined, “The best thing he does is get him the ball on the run, get him in space, and he runs away from people, creates separation with his speed and then pulled away at the second level, and I just think a well-rounded athlete all together.”

Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Jalen Nailor. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Nailor must dazzle this summer at training camp and preseason to avoid “just a practice squad” fate for the 2022 season. Minnesota has a crowded house at wide receiver as these men currently outfit the depth chart:

WR1: Justin Jefferson
WR2: Adam Thielen
WR3: K.J. Osborn
WR4: Ihmir Smith-Marsette
WR5: Olabisi Johnson
WR6: Dan Chisena
WR7: Blake Proehl
WR8: Myron Mitchell
WR9: Trishton Jackson

Thankfully for Nailor, the bottom-five section of that depth chart isn’t otherworldly, so he’ll have a puncher’s chance to snag the WR5 job.

Nailor joins a Vikings roster already employing two other Spartans — Kirk Cousins and Kenny Willekes. In fact, Willekes and Nailor were teammates at Michigan State.

Strengths of his game include the aforementioned speed and quickness, along with big-play ability. Nailor averaged 18.8 yards per reception in 2021. The drawbacks? He has a thin frame, isn’t overly physical, and is prone to drops.

Nailor is the fourth wideout drafted in the 6th Rounder or higher in the last five drafts for the Vikings. Rick Spielman previously onboarded Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette since 2018. That amount is around the league average.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).