7 Summer Position Battles for the 2024 Vikings

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Minnesota Vikings mandatory minicamp kicks off on Tuesday, and a month after that, training camp will heat up, followed by preseason in August.

7 Summer Position Battles for the 2024 Vikings

The NFL’s regular season is 98 days away.

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 for the summer, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most important battle).

7. Will Reichard v. Parker Romo

Position Battles
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Position: Kicker

Parker Romo’s life was peachy — until the NFL draft. In a bit of an unanticipated 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 in a summer camp joust, with the advantage already favoring Reichard, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer. Romo did produce a successful XFL career, though.

Predicted Battle Winner: Will Reichard

6. Dalton Risner v. Blake Brandel

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Position: Left Guard

Risner returned to the Vikings on Wednesday, a move universally embraced by the team’s fans. He conducted a wonderful first act in Minneapolis last year, and after about four months of the masses wondering, “Will they re-sign Risner?” he’s back for a sequel.

However, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips recently spoke highly of Blake Brandel, who was theorized as Risner’s replacement as of late. “I’m really excited about Blake. I feel like he gets bigger every time I see him. He’s just a massive man on the inside. But he’s in great shape, he’s always been very coachable,” Phillps told reporters last week at organized team activities (OTAs).

“You talk about technique, fundamentals, footwork, hand placement, all the things that are critical for the O-line — one false step for an O-lineman could be a catastrophe — it’s been very encouraging so far with him stepping into that starting spot on the left.”

Phillips continued, “I think it’ll only grow, the more experience, the more reps he gets. He’s been a guy that, any time he’s been put in a game at several positions, has come through for us. We haven’t forgotten that. I think he’s earned this opportunity.”

Risner is the favorite to retain his LG assignment, but Brandel cannot be fully ruled out.

Predicted Battle Winner: Dalton Risner

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

Vikings Week 17 Final Injury Report
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Position: Defensive Tackle

A scenario all too familiar to the last 10 batches of Vikings defenses, Minnesota is happy to embark on a season with a mid-tier three-technique defensive tackle. The franchise reportedly 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, Minnesota gets Tillery, Bullard, Williams, and Lynch. 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 uplifted by Brian Flores.

Second-year DT Jaquelin Roy and rookie Levi Drake Rodriquez could be wildcards at this spot.

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 dissipated — 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 qualified WR3.

Minnesota also employs eight more receivers after Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, Powell, Nailor, and Sherfield. Perhaps one unsung candidate could emerge.

Predicted Battle Winner: Trent Sherfield and Brandon Powell equitable split WR3 targets.

3. Andrew Van Ginkel v. Dallas Turner

vikings gm
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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 held the starter’s job, but Turner’s arrival changed the scenery.

Minnesota suddenly has glorious outside linebacking depth, which should enthuse every fan.

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

2. Every CB

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Position: Cornerback

Nobody at all knows for sure 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: A.J. Green III
CB10: 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

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Position: Quarterback

This battle will consume everything related to your Vikings-themed life in no time. McCarthy will probably play well at training camp, and a large denomination of the fanbase will demand his Week 1 start date. Of course, Minnesota signed Darnold as a bridge quarterback, and now the question is whether he’s actually used as that patch.

Don’t forget, however, 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.

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.