Questions Answered: Breakout Candidates, Former Viking Reunion, Encouraging Part of Minicamp

Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon's first practice as a Viking after being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Blackmon is a cornermback from USC drafted by Minnesota in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

The following questions are about current Minnesota Vikings topics, answered by VikingsTerritory. Today is the June 19th edition, addressed in a from-the-hip fashion. If you have questions, please email them to [email protected].

Questions Answered: Breakout Candidates, Former Viking Reunion, Encouraging Part of Minicamp

Also, please note: These are opinion-based responses. Some answers will be incorrect from time to time. But we’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

Breakout Candidates
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Q: Who do you predict as Vikings breakout candidates in 2024?

Baylor s Blake Shapen (12) looks to pass as Oklahoma s Jalen Redmond (31) makes a sack during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Baylor Bears at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. © NATHAN J FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Answer: Mekhi Blackmon and Sam Darnold.

Blackmon was the NFL’s 32nd-best overall cornerback back in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus, a superb 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.

He should be able to build upon a noteworthy rookie season, and with only Byron Murphy and possibly Shaquill Griffin ahead of him on the depth chart, Blackmon will have the opportunity to shine.

And on Darnold, well, this is the best setup he’s ever had as a starter — by a longshot. We believe he’ll play well enough to create a mini-quarterback controversy with J.J. McCarthy waiting in the wings.

Q: Who’s one former Viking you’d like to see back in 2024?

2nd Year Viking
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Answer: With Dalton Risner back in the house, we’ll go with Linval Joseph.

The Vikings have no true nose tackle on the roster, and Joseph is a true nose tackle. He’s latched onto the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills in back-to-back seasons, so if he doesn’t retire, why not reunite with Minnesota for a last hurrah? Joseph spent six seasons with the Vikings.

The mammoth human doesn’t have to start — he’s up there in age — but as depth, adding him for the 2024 campaign would check some boxes.

Q: What was the most encouraging part of Vikings minicamp?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

A: That Dallas Turner looks the part.

Virtually everyone knew that J.J. McCarthy would be a work in progress, but with Turner, he can start as soon as Week 1. At OTAs and minicamp, Turner has not disappointed and very much looks like a player who will contribute as a rookie.

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw told KSTP’s Darren Wolfson last month, “He had a spin move last week, it was quicker than Danielle’s. I was like, ‘Damn, this guy’s gonna be special.'”

Darrisaw was comparing Turner to Danielle Hunter, and that can never be a bad thing.

Turner has a viable path to start as a rookie, which is pretty sweet.

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 MIN 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