The 5 Vikings Players Most Likely to Break Out in 2024

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL regular season is 23 weeks away, and the Minnesota Vikings are projected to win 6.5 games as of late March.

The 5 Vikings Players Most Likely to Break Out in 2024

First, of course, the NFL draft occurs, and that will shake down in 26 days. The franchise is expected to draft a quarterback of the future. Stay tuned.

But as a sneak peek for the summer and fall, these are the five Vikings players likely to break out next season, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most likely to break out).

5. Jaquelin Roy (DT)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings swung and missed at defensive tackle in free agency, missing out on Christian Wilkins, who they reportedly sought but found themselves outbid by the Las Vegas Raiders.

So, Minnesota “settled” on Jerry Tillery, Jonathan Bullard, and Jonah Williams at the position. Because that group isn’t stuffed to the gills with high-profile performers, Roy has a reasonable chance to put a thumbprint on 2024, his sophomore season. He doesn’t have a Wilkins, for example, in front of him on the depth chart.

4. Jalen Nailor (WR)

Vikings Players
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Somehow, as the roster stands in late March, Nailor will have a chance to compete for the WR3 job after K.J. Osborn vamoosed to the New England Patriots. He’ll work alongside Brandon Powell and Trent Sherfield — and maybe a rookie to be named later — but Nailor has a puncher’s chance to win WR3.

When he’s healthy, Nailor shows flashes of promise. Yet, the “when he’s healthy” is a ginormous caveat. Injury was the knock on him at Michigan State, which has translated to the pros.

3. Blake Brandel (OG)

Vikings Free Agency
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Unless Minnesota re-signs Blake Brandel or drafts a rookie guard in April, Brandel is in the driver’s seat to start for the 2024 Vikings.

And don’t look now, but he might be good.

Kevin O’Connell’s coaching staff has proven in the last two seasons that it doesn’t foster half-buttocks offensive line solutions, which were customary during the Mike Zimmer era. If O’Connell thinks Brandel can start, he probably can.

And that would put Brandel on tap for a breakout season, at least compared to his previous campaigns.

2. Mekhi Blackmon (CB)

5 Achievements on
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Blackmon was the NFL’s 32nd-best overall cornerback back in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus, a wonderful mark for a rookie and a decent grade for anybody. About 90 cornerbacks play football on any given Sunday, and Blackmon was near the NFL’s best one-third.

He should be able to build upon a noteworthy rookie season, and with only Byron Murphy and possibly Shaquill Griffin ahead of him on the depth chart, Blackmon will have the opportunity to shine.

1. Sam Darnold (QB)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

When Darnold last started in the NFL two years ago, he didn’t play poorly at all.

QB Rankings | 2022,
(min. 125 att)

  1. Patrick Mahomes (.178)
  2. Tua Tagovailoa (.148)
  3. Jalen Hurts (.143)
  4. Josh Allen (.137)
  5. Sam Darnold (.128)
  6. Jimmy Garoppolo (.128)
  7. Joe Burrow (.126)

There’s a plausible chance that he will pull off a Baker Mayfield-like tale in 2023, convincing everyone that he’s a decent start after all. The VIkings’ offense was molded in heaven for any quarterback, Darnold included.

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