5 X-Factor Players for the 2024 Vikings

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X-Factor is defined as “a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.”

5 X-Factor Players for the 2024 Vikings

And the Minnesota Vikings will need men with that reputation to help the team improve on a 7-10 record from 2023.

Every NFL team has X-Factor personnel, and these are the Vikings examples in 2024 listed alphabetically.

1. Mekhi Blackmon (CB)

Breakout Player
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This man conducted a wonderful rookie season, but some casual fans only remember a handful of his bad plays. Blackmon was damn near as prolific as Ivan Pace Jr. He simply didn’t receive the fanfare. He’s an x-factor in 2024 because if he takes the next step, well, the Vikings have a long-term starting cornerback on their hands. If he slumps, though, the CB group will be merely average. A productive Blackmon would make everything in the secondary easier.

2. Sam Darnold (QB)

The Carolina Panthers arrive at Wofford College for their 2022 training camp. The team plans to host 12 training camp practices that are free and open to the public. This Saturday, July 30, the team will hold the ‘Back Together’ event at Gibbs Stadium at the college. The Panthers’ S. Darnold talks about working with his fellow players at training camp. © ALEX HICKS JR./SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

A no-brainer as an x-factor, nobody knows how Sam Darnold will perform in 2024. He’s never had a prolonged stretch of success in the pros, but some fans claim Minnesota will serve as a geographical cure. If that’s true and Darnold finally begins to effectuate his 2018 draft stock, the sky is the limit for Minnesota’s offense.

3. Aaron Jones (RB)

A. Jones, Jonathan Greenard, Jordan Addison and Cam Bynum spoke with reporters after mandatory minicamp on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024, at TCO Performance Center. Minnesota signed Jones during the 2024 free agency period, a replacement for Alexander Mattison, who joined the Las Vegas Raiders roster.

In back-to-back seasons (2022 and 2023), the Vikings have ranked 27th in the NFL per rushing DVOA — also known as sixth-worst in the sport.

Jones is an x-factor candidate because he alone can aid the remedial process. If he plays like he did in Green Bay last December and January, Minnesota’s ground game can be fixed with the snap of two fingers. However, Jones must stay healthy, a large ask for an aging running back.

4. Jerry Tillery (DT)

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A former 1st-Round pick like Darnold, Tillery has one last shot to prove he’s a starter in the NFL. Perhaps the time has passed for him to prove he’s a Pro Bowl-caliber starter, but the Vikings will give him one more shot to shine.

Fans are starved for a standout DT, and Tillery disappoints, it’s back to the drawing board at DT, as Minnesota hasn’t showcased a high-profile one since Kevin Williams left in 2013.

5. Robert Tonyan (TE)

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T.J. Hockenson probably won’t play in the first month or two of the regular season, and Minnesota needs a tight end to step up, at least for a while. Josh Oliver’s modus operandi is run blocking. And Johnny Mundt is a TE2 or TE3.

That leaves Tonyan as the other man with TE1 experience. He can be a giant boost for Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy if he turns the clock back to the Aaron Rodgers days. Minnesota’s TE proficiency early in the season might boil down to his game-readiness.

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 OverTheCap.com.