This Year’s Ivan Pace? Here Are 3 Candidates for Vikings.

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The Minnesota Vikings needed an infusion of youth entering the 2024 NFL draft, and they surely found some potential future stars. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added quarterback J.J. McCarthy and pass-rusher Dallas Turner in the first round. Both are only 21 years old and have high ceilings. On day three of the draft, the most prominent guy selected was cornerback Khyree Jackson.

This Year’s Ivan Pace? Here Are 3 Candidates for Vikings.

2 Vikings Snatch
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Minnesota has been a wonderful spot for undrafted rookies in the past. Just last year, pass-rusher Andre Carter and special teamer NaJee Thompson earned a spot on the 53-man roster, while linebacker Ivan Pace was one of the best rookie defenders in the league.

This year, Adofo-Mensah signed several undrafted players. These three might sneak onto the 53-man roster based on talent and competition.

WR Ty James, Mercer

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The Vikings obviously employ an electric wideout duo with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. Behind them, however, there isn’t broad and established depth. Punt returner Brandon Powell was solid on offense last season, and veteran depth option Trent Sherfield was signed. 2022 draftee Jalen Nailor remains but hasn’t been able to stay healthy, although he showed flashes in his debut season. N’Keal Harry and Trishton Jackson haven’t shown much.

That’s why Ty James has a chance to make the team. In the last two seasons, James logged 116 receptions for 1,105 and 1,157 receiving yards with 20 combined scores—his career average of 19.7 yards per catch implies the ability to be a big-play receiver. He doesn’t have elite speed on paper (he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash) but is a natural playmaker, and his size of 6’2″ is a nice change from the smaller Addison and Powell.

CB Dwight McGlothern, Arkansas

The cornerback room is currently crowded, which is unusual in Minnesota. Last year, the Vikes kept only four cornerbacks on the roster (in addition to the previously mentioned Thompson, who is primarily a special teams player). They called up veteran Joejuan Williams from the practice squad several times.

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After signing Shaq Griffin and drafting fourth-rounder Jackson while keeping Byron Murphy, Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, and Mekhi Blackmon, the Vikings have six players for four or five spots.

However, don’t count out undrafted rookie Dwight McGlothern to make a surprise climb up the depth chart in training camp. He ranked 189th on Arif Hasan’s consensus big board, ranking him eighth among UDFAs. After running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and having a measured height of 6’2″, it is quite surprising a player with his athletic profile was available after the draft.

His listed weakness is run defense, a typical issue for rookie defensive backs. Still, he is a long and athletic cornerback with the ability to play press-man coverage and the track record of a ball hawk with a combined seven interceptions in the last two seasons.

OLB Gabriel Murphy, UCLA

Even higher on the consensus board, Hasan has him listed as the top UDFA at position 111; Gabriel Murphy has the talent to be on a 53-man roster when Week 1 arrives. The pass-rusher is coming off his best season at UCLA, producing 16 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2023 as the teammate of first-rounder Laiatu Latu.

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Murphy is a decent athlete with excellent numbers at the scouting combine and has the on-field production to be drafted. His problem is the lack of length, though he was fine in college as he is a refined technician.

In an overhauled pass-rushing group, he surely won’t claim a roster spot over top free-agent signings Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard, and the Vikings drafted Dallas Turner in the first round. Behind them, though, there will be a competition between veterans Jihad Ward and Patrick Jones, as well as last year’s undrafted rookie Andre Carter.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt