6 Upcoming Camp Battles for Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings cut ties with franchise cornerstones Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter and welcomed rookies J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner this offseason.

6 Upcoming Camp Battles for Vikings

It’s a brave new world in the Twin Cities, and plenty of roster battles lie ahead to determine the team’s Week 1 depth chart. These are the Vikings’ primary roster battles, with minicamp about three weeks away, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most important battle).

6. Will Reichard v. Parker Romo

Camp Battles
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Position: Kicker

Parker Romo’s life was great — until the NFL draft. In a bit of an unforeseen twist, Minnesota used a 6th-Round pick on Alabama kicker Will Reichard, considered by most draft heads as the best kicker in the class.

Now, the two will meet via summer camp battle, with the advantage already favoring Reichard, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer. Romo did produce a successful XFL career, however.

Predicted Battle Winner: Will Reichard

5. Jerry Tillery v. Jonathan Bullard v. Jonah Williams

jerry tillery
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Position: Defensive Tackle

A scenario all too familiar to the last 10 batches of Vikings defenses, Minnesota is content embarking on a season with a mid-tier three-technique defensive tackle. Allegedly, the franchise made a play for Christian Wilkins during free agency, but he was too spendy, ending up in Las Vegas on a deal worth $110 million over four years.

So, Vikings fans get Tillery, Bullard, and Williams. Somewhat quietly, Tillery produced a decent season in 2023, notching a commendable 67.7 Pro Football Focus grade. Perhaps his former 1st-Round potential can be unlocked by Brian Flores.

Predicted Battle Winner: Jerry Tillery

4. Brandon Powell v. Jalen Nailor v. Trent Sherfield

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Position: WR3

Unless general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has grand plans of signing Michael Thomas or Hunter Renfrow, the WR3 market has all but dried — meaning Powell, Nailor, or Sherfield will earn WR3 duties for 2024.

Neither of the three has ever created a marvelous standalone season, so Vikings fans will hope for the best and that competition will generate the most capable combatant.

Predicted Battle Winner: Trent Sherfield, though WR3 targets may be equitable among a few men.

3. Andrew Van Ginkel v. Dallas Turner

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Position: Outside Linebacker

Both men will play a lot in 2024, but with Turner in the mix from Round 1 of the draft, he could reasonably start sooner rather than later. In March, Van Ginkel owned the starter’s job, but the arrival of Turner changed the scenery.

Minnesota suddenly has glorious EDGE depth, and that should enthuse every fan.

Predicted Battle Winner: Andrew Van Ginkel, but Turner will play substantially.

2. All the CBs

2 Rookies Balling
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Position: Cornerback

Who the hell knows which men will win starting cornerback gigs? The list is huge:

CB1: Byron Murphy
CB2: Akayleb Evans
CB3: Mekhi Blackmon
CB4: Shaquill Griffin
CB5: Andrew Booth
CB6: Khyree Jackson
CB7: NaJee Thompson
CB8: Jaylin Williams
CB9: Joejuan Williams
CB10: A.J. Green III
CB11: Dwight McGlothern

Like EDGE rusher (but not as fancy at the top of the list), this is a good problem. Minnesota employs about 5-6 corners who could play in the regular season.

Predicted Battle Winner: Byron Murphy, Shaquill Griffin, and Mekhi Blackmon

1. Sam Darnold v. J.J. McCarthy

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Position: Quarterback

In about two months, this battle will engulf everything related to your Vikings-themed life. McCarthy will probably play well at training camp, and a large sect of the fanbase will demand his Week 1 arrival. Of course, Minnesota signed Darnold as a patchover quarterback, and now the question is whether he’s actually used as that bridge.

Don’t forget, though, what Adofo-Mensah said about McCarthy’s development plan after the draft. “A lot of times when we go back over history and say, ‘These quarterbacks have missed,’ there’s a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure that our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense,” he opined.

That sounds like a Darnold lean.

Predicted Battle Winner: Sam Darnold

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.