4 Standout Players from Vikings OTAs

Explained: The 7 Big Takeaways from Vikings Win over NE
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.

The Minnesota Vikings started organized team activities (OTAs) last week, continued this week, and have more on the way leading up to June 13th’s mandatory minicamp.

4 Standout Players from Vikings OTAs

It’s the first look at players in their 2023 apparel, notably featuring glimpses of newcomers from the 2023 NFL Draft and free agency.

And so far, these four players have stood out (detailed in alphabetical order).

1. Andrew Booth (CB)

4 Standout
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Booth caught the attention of other-side-of-the-ball mate K.J. Osborn this week, which can’t be a bad thing for the Vikings defense.

The club drafted Booth in the 2nd Round one year ago, and the Clemson alumnus struggled with injuries — and in general when on the field.

But those days may be over, or at least Booth is on the right path as a sophomore in the big leagues. Osborn said about Booth, “He’s out there trying to work at his craft. He’s been working all offseason to get back out here. He’s bigger. He’s stronger. He’s faster. I talked to him. I mean, I can tell. He’s excited to get out here. I’m excited to work and get better and just compete. Of course, we want to stay off the ground, but if you happen to go down, we’ll bite it.”

2. Lewis Cine (SS)

Cross 1 Big Vikings
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) warms up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Like Booth, Cine was a 2022 draft commodity whose stock didn’t translate to regular season success as a rookie. Cine, though, broke his leg against the New Orleans Saints early in the season and was promptly ruled out for the rest of the year.

But his recovery was speedy, and he’s back, appearing poised to wreak havoc inside Brian Flores’ new defense.

KSTP’s Alec Ausmus tweeted a few weeks ago about Cine’s progress, “Safety Lewis Cine is working his way back from a leg injury during his rookie season last year. Guys on defense have told us they forgot Cine was even injured. He’s recovered so well.”

That sounds like a compliment.

3. Alexander Mattison (RB)

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) reacts after losing a wildcard game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Mattison is walking and talking — well, playing and talking — like an RB1. And that might just be his job in 2023 if Dalvin Cook is traded or released. One of the reasons Mattison returned to the Vikings after scheduled free agency three months ago was due to an “understanding of how it’s all laid out and how it’s all going to work out.”

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said about Mattison this week at OTAs, “It’s been really good to see Alex Mattison take a few more reps and really show that all three-down kinda ownership that he’s been capable of for a long time.”

If the prospective RB1 is showing three-down gumption in May and June, he’s a standout.

4. Jalen Nailor (WR)

Only 3 Vikings Played Well vs. GB
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.

Arguably the man who’s stolen the show the most, Nailor looks like a WR1 or WR2 in spots at OTAs. Speedy (his nickname) has played that damn well in the last two weeks.

Nailor hauled in this pass a few days ago, turning heads from the Vikings social media team.

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.”

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.

He should grab a WR4 job from Jalen Reagor if his heroism continues and maybe even push K.J. Osborn to the limit at WR3.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.