7 Vikings Players Who Could Bust Out in 2024

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports.

Every year, at least one Minnesota Vikings player arrives out of nowhere and makes an impact.

7 Vikings Players Who Could Bust Out in 2024

In 2021, it was K.J. Osborn. The 2022 campaign brought Khyiris Tonga. And last year, NaJee Thompson made the roster while Josh Metellus morphed into a fringe Pro Bowl candidate.

So, we asked each VikingsTerritory writer to identify that guy this year, and these were their responses.

1. DeWayne McBride (RB)

DeWayne McBride on First Impressions of Being a Viking & Translating College Success to the NFL. Vikings.com’s Tatum Everett talked with Minnesota Vikings rookie running back DeWayne McBride from the TCO Studios. The Vikings selected McBride in Round 7 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

He spent all of last season as a rookie on the practice squad. With Aaron Jones and Ty Chandler on the roster, McBride certainly won’t see many carries unless either or both are hurt, but he could still get some carries here and there and perhaps make some big plays. Could they also have him return kicks if Kene Nwangwu doesn’t make the roster?

2. Michael Jurgens (OL)

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Adam New

Vikings offensive linemen have had a habit of picking up niggling injuries in recent seasons, requiring them to use their depth players throughout the season. Should rookie Michael Jurgens see the field, I believe he has the size and power to at least be as good, if not better, than what the Vikings currently have on the interior.

3. Levi Drake Rodriguez (DT)

Draft Pick
Drake Levi Rodriguez. Undrafted free agent added by Minnesota Vikings after the 2024 NFL Draft from Texas A&M-Commerce. Rodriguez will compete for a roster spot this summer.

Prediction Maker = Wes Johnson

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and with that, I will piggyback on the coverage DT Levi Drake Rodriguez received leading up to the draft. Featured in Kalyn Kahler’s “Meet Prospect X” article leading up and through the draft process, Drake Rodriguez embodies the overlooked and under-recruited.

With their last pick in the seventh round, the Vikings pulled the trigger on the small-school star, fulfilling his dream of making the league. His hard work and dedication won’t stop there. Drake Rodriguez has the tools, the motor, and the pathway to make an impact in year one. Somewhere, a retired undrafted Hall of Fame Vikings DT is smiling as he can envision a similar pathway for LDR.

4. Blake Brandel (OG)

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker =
Dustin Baker

Vikings Offensive Line NFL Ranking,
Per Pro Football Focus,
Since 2020:

2020 = 26th
2021 = 23rd
2022 = 13th
2023 = 12th

Since Kevin O’Connell took over, the Vikings’ trenches improved from 10th-worst in the business to 12th-best. If he and his coaching staff believe Blake Brandel can start at left guard, they’re not deciding whimsically.

Brandel will impress onlookers if given the LG job.

5. Ty Chandler (RB)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

He was given a run as the starter last year but was displaced by Aaron Jones in free agency. He will still have a key role and should be expected to perform admirably.

6. Brandon Powell (WR)

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Put me down for Brandon Powell. There has been a lot of talk about adding a WR3 before and after the draft, but Minnesota’s inaction suggests that he’s already on the roster. Powell is super shifty, making him tough to hang with in man coverage.

t7. Jalen Nailor (WR)

vikings free agency
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

For the first time in a few years, the Vikings don’t have an apparent top-three wideout rotation because of K.J. Osborn’s departure. 2022 rookie Jalen Nailor showed promise in his debut season with an electric breakout game versus the Packers. He produced nine catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Various injuries limited him in his sophomore campaign to only three catches. If he can stay healthy, he is a prime candidate to contribute to the passing attack.

t7. Jalen Nailor (WR)

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

The speedy third-year wideout from Michigan State has impressed coaches during practice when healthy. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been healthy very often. Perhaps 2024 is a flash in the pan, Sidney Rice-esque, but the WR3 spot is wide open.

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.