One ‘Deep Sleeper’ Viking Already Turning Heads at OTAs

Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman James Lynch (92) performs a drill at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings don’t need a lot of breakout performances from wide receivers near the back of the depth chart, but they might get one anyway.

One ‘Deep Sleeper’ Viking Already Turning Heads at OTAs

The team employs Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and K.J. Osborn at the front of the WR room, a trio that will do its best in 2023 to replicate the nostalgic ‘Three Deep’ era of Vikings football from 25 years ago. But for now, Justin Jefferson is absent from OTAs, awaiting completion of a gargantuan contract extension, while Addison is nursing a minor ailment.

That leaves Osborn as the showstopper, but the Vikings are reminding folks not to forget about Jalen Nailor. The man nicknamed Speedy is turning heads at OTAs after a promising finish to his rookie season.

Deep Sleeper
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) rushes for a touchdown as Green Bay Packers cornerback Corey Ballentine (35) defends during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Nailor has been electric at OTAs, formulating chemistry with alma-mater-mate Kirk Cousins and creating fancy highlights. The Vikings social media team uplifted one play in particular

And this wasn’t Nailor’s ‘only good play.” To date at OTAs, such clips are standard operating procedure, a wonderful development as Nailor could win this year’s WR4 job.

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) celebrates after making a stop against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, Minnesota’s wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell reportedly ‘pounded the table‘ for Nailor. At Michigan State in 2021, Nailor tallied 695 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Speedy 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. On any given Sunday, he’s around the third fastest player on the Vikings roster behind Kalon Barnes (CB) and Kene Nwangwu (RB).

Then, Nailor recorded 9 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown in his rookie campaign, along with some flashy clips to whet fans’ appetites for the offseason. Incidentally, Nailor did most of his damage in ‘garbage time’ and will hope to mimic the production in the middle of games as a sophomore.

2023 Win Forecast
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) before an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell also mentioned ‘the Jalens’ at OTAs to reporters, “I’m excited for a guy like Jalen Nailor and Jalen Reagor, to get a chance to really compete and have the ability in year two to play multiple spots, and handle that, which is really, really important.”

The other Jalen — Reagor — will be Nailor’s competition for WR4 this summer, meaning The Jalen Joust will be one for fans to monitor. Nailor also returned punts in college, and if Reagor doesn’t make the 53-man roster at the end of August, Nailor could contend for the job.

Nailor is under contract with the Vikings through the end of 2025. He grew up idolizing Muhammad Ali, Reggie Bush, and LeBron James.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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