Promising Young Viking Predicted to Shine in 2024

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First, it was Pro Football Focus. Now, it’s Pro Football Network.

Promising Young Viking Predicted to Shine in 2024

The “Pro Football” sites are high on second-year cornerback Mekhi Blackmon, labeling the young defensive back as a breakout candidate in 2024.

Breakout Player
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Unearthed in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft, Blackmon, for some reason, flies under fans’ radar when he should be classified as a tremendous defensive building block. So, last week, PFN recognized Blackmon’s breakout potential.

“The Vikings entered the offseason with question marks at the CB position, and as the season creeps close, they still have some of those questions. However, Blackmon hopes to be the answer for them, and those around the team believe he can be. The young DB has a chance to make a name for himself in 2024 and solidify a unit that needs it,” PFN Tony Catalina explained.

2 Rookies Balling
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Blackmon ranked as the NFL’s 32nd-best overall cornerback back in 2023, according to PFF, a wonderful mark for a rookie and a decent grade for anybody. About 90 cornerbacks play football on any given Sunday, and Blackmon was near the NFL’s best one-third. Minnesota’s defense was infamously housed on two occasions by tall wide receivers last year: once versus Courtland Sutton and the Denver Broncos, the other time by Tee Higgins and the Cincinnati Bengals (though Akayleb Evans was the one directly on the Bengals receiver).

He took some heat for allowing those plays on his watch, but what rookie NFLer doesn’t make mistakes? Not many. Because of those [badly] memorable plays, Blackmon took a backseat this offseason, at least per fans’ excitement and long-term trajectory for the player.

Unsung Move of the
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Too, other stats paint Blackmon’s first season positively if one doesn’t fancy PFF as a trustworthy grading magistrate. He fired up an 81.8 passer-rating-against, which basically means that NFL quarterbacks turned into Kenny Pickett when targeting the USC alumnus. For reference, Broncos all-world CB Patrick Surtain II tallied an 88.2 passer-rating-against.

Blackmon, too, must battle this CB group at training camp and in the preseason:

  • Byron Murphy
  • Akayleb Evans
  • Mekhi Blackmon
  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Andrew Booth
  • Khyree Jackson
  • Jaylin Williams
  • A.J. Green III
  • Dwight McGlothern

He’s close to a lock for playing time, but this year’s Vikings batch has plenty of competition.

gabriel murphy
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores chatting with Tatum Everett on February 15th, 2023. The Vikings hired Flores from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a linebackers coach for one season.

Blackmon will also benefit from coaching staff continuity, as Brian Flores remained with Minnesota this offseason despite chatter near the end of 2023 that he could fetch head coaching interviews. In fact, Minnesota will have full coaching continuity for the first time in about a decade this season.

Vikings training camp is about two weeks away.

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