Making the Case for Jalen Nailor
The 2022 Minnesota Vikings have one of the deepest wide receiver rooms in the entire NFL. Currently, they have a whopping 12 receivers on the roster. These players include:
- Justin Jefferson
- Adam Thielen
- K.J. Osborn
- Olabisi Johnson
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette
- Dan Chisena
- Jalen Nailor
- Albert Wilson
- Myron Mitchell
- Thomas Hennigan
- Blake Proehl
- Trishton Jackson
Obviously, the top three players, Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborne, are locks to make the roster. Behind them, Smith-Marsette is very probable to make it too. Behind those four though, there’s going to be a battle for the final one or two spots between eight players. Here’s why Jalen Nailor should be among those players on the final 53.
I realize there’s some contradiction here. How quick can a player be when his 40-yard dash is a mere 4.50? Even more perplexing, how could someone with this average time get the nickname of “Speedy”?
My rebuttal to this is the 40-yard dash doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to a wide receiver’s speed. Take Cooper Kupp, for example. He recorded a 40-yard dash of 4.62, one of the slowest in his draft class among the wide receiver position. However, he also recorded a 6.75 3-cone drill, which ranked seventh among wide receivers in that 2017 class. This showcased his excellent ability to change directions on a dime, and that is a skill that has allowed him to get open throughout his NFL career.
Similarly, Nailor’s 40-yard dash doesn’t tell everything about him. First of all, the 4.50 still puts him among the top-20 at the receiver position for the 2022 draft class, so it isn’t a bad time by any means. But he also tested out very well in the 3-cone. It’s not as fast as Kupp’s 6.75, but Nailor’s 7.03 still showed that he should be able to run routes successfully at the NFL level.
For comparison’s sake, K.J. Osbron recorded a 4.48 40-yard dash and a 7.00 3-cone at the 2020 combine. If Nailor can ever come close to recording the numbers that Osborn recorded in 2021, that will make him a wildly successful pick out of the sixth round.
The Higher-Ups Love Him
When the Minnesota Vikings went into the sixth round, they could’ve drafted just about anyone at any position that they thought had some upside to them. However, wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell apparently was “pounding the table” for the Vikings to draft Nailor.
With this type of love from the wide receivers coach, alongside experience as a kick and punt returner, the Vikings should be able to find a role for him on this team. Especially as a punt returner, his elusivity and explosive speed would make him a terrific fit.
He Doesn’t Shy Away from Big Moments
The ultimate goal that Vikings fans have been hoping for is a Super Bowl title, and that has made these past two sub-.500 seasons that much more frustrating. In order to take that step towards being not only a Super Bowl contender but just a playoff team in general, they need players that aren’t afraid of the big games.
Jalen Nailor is certainly a guy that is comfortable in these games. During Michigan State’s victory over Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl this past season, Nailor caught six passes for 108 yards. This is even more impressive when you consider that this was his first game in two months after suffering a hand injury in October. The time off clearly didn’t hold him back in the biggest game of the year for the Spartans. Maybe this is a sign of things to come for the Vikings as well.