The New Era of Vikings Football Is Here

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
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The Minnesota Vikings have changed in the offseason, especially over the last two months. With Kirk Cousins’s exit, one era of Vikings football has ended. As the quarterback, he was the face of the franchise (although Justin Jefferson challenged him for that title) for six years but closed the chapter in Minnesota by moving to Atlanta.

The New Era of Vikings Football Is Here

In the same free agency period, star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter went back home to Houston, where he grew up. He swapped places with new Vikings defender Jonathan Greenard and will return to Minnesota in 2024 with his new Texans crew.

The New Era of Vikings Football Is Here
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

To kickstart the new era, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah selected not just one but two potential cornerstones of the franchise at the same positions the departed players vacated. J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner received draft calls from the Vikings in April. Roughly three weeks later, they step onto the practice field for the first time to compete in rookie minicamp.

The Vikings didn’t show their fans much of their new guys, but they posted one video of each guy on social media.

Pass rusher Turner shined for three years at Alabama. His explosiveness, length, and power give him a high ceiling. At this point, he is not a refined rusher as he wins primarily with athleticism, but at age 21, there is plenty of room to grow. Turner will contribute early in his career, and his skill set gives defensive coordinator Brian Flores another weapon to move around all over his defense.

draft grade
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Turner can stop the run, rush the passer, and occasionally drop into coverage, which makes him the perfect puzzle piece for his new coach, whose defense blossoms with added versatility.

McCarthy’s development is crucial for the next few years. The Vikings have invested the tenth overall pick in the national champion from Michigan, but similarly to Turner, he is 21 years old, and his growth requires time and patience.

new qb
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The rookie has all the physical tools to excel at the next level, including size, speed, and arm strength. He has also gained experience on college football’s biggest stage and has always played his best football on crucial downs.

Sam Darnold was signed to be the bridge quarterback, and there’s a chance McCarthy won’t start anytime soon. However, if head coach Kevin O’Connell feels his student is ready to compete, he will surely not hold him back.

brian flores
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Besides those two, who will draw the most attention for good reason, 43 other players are participating in the rookie minicamp. That includes the five remaining drafted players, 17 undrafted rookies who signed with the organization, 16 invited players who try out for the team, and last year’s rookies Henry Byrd, Malik Knowles, Thayer Thomas, and DeWayne McBride, and new punter Seth Vernon.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt