The Vikings’ 5 Most Intriguing Players Heading into Summer

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Minnesota Vikings organized team activities (OTAs) will finish this weekend, with eyes on mandatory minicamp this Tuesday.

Then, the club will embark on training camp and preseason games later in the summer.

The Vikings’ 5 Most Intriguing Players Heading into Summer

Along the way, these are the five most intriguing players to monitor, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most intriguing).

5. James Lynch (DT)

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Why He’s Intriguing:
The man could pop up and snatch the starting DT job next to Harrison Smith on the defensive line.

Lynch rejoined Minnesota late this offseason after a season-ending ACL tear during training camp last summer. Here’s the thing about Lynch: when he’s on the field, he performs quite well. But injuries have ravaged his career.

If 2024 becomes the year of good health for Lynch, he could reasonably win a starter’s job. Otherwise, his DT spot on the roster is crowded, so he could be a starter or a free agent at the end of the summer. Intriguing stakes, indeed.

4. Jalen Nailor (WR)

vikings free agency
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Why He’s Intriguing:
The Vikings have a WR3 opening, according to most, and if Nailor lives up to his potential and stays healthy, he can be “the guy.”

Nailor had a golden opportunity to bust into stardom last season when Justin Jefferson fell injured as Minnesota’s offense had an opening. However, he was hurt, and when he returned to health, Nailor didn’t do much of anything with Joshua Dobbs, Jaren Hall, and Nick Mullens at quarterback.

The speedster enters Year No. 3, a vital season for his career trajectory — on a team that needs someone from his position to blossom. It’s a perfect storyline.

3. Gabriel Murphy (OLB)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Why He’s Intriguing:
He’s “this year’s Ivan Pace Jr.”

Murphy’s story exactly parallels Pace Jr.’s from last year — weirdly undrafted because of an unjust paranoia about his size. Minnesota handed Murhpy a large UDFA contract, meaning he’ll probably make the 53-man roster, but it will be fascinating to see if Murphy is as dominant as Pace Jr.

Almost immediately last year, Pace Jr.’s teammates could tell he was the real deal. Murphy doesn’t quite have a path as clear as Pace Jr.’s in 2023 — the EDGE room is stocked — but if the UCLA alumnus grabs headlines right away, the Vikings will have done it in back-to-back-years, finding the sweetest UDFA available.

2. Andrew Booth (CB)

roster battle
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports,

Why He’s Intriguing:
Booth could start for the 2024 Vikings — or get cut at the end of summer. Few would be surprised by either outcome.

Booth hasn’t lived up to his draft scouting report and is a frequent source of critique among Vikings loyalists. Still, Booth found the field on approximately 100 coverage snaps in 2023 and banked a 68.6 grade from PFF.

He performed rather well as a second-year commodity and will soon encounter a rather pivotal Year No. 3.

1. J.J. McCarthy (QB)

Minnesota Vikings quarterback J.J. McCarthy at the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10th, 2024, in Eagan, Minnesota. TCO Performance Center. McCarthy was drafted by the Vikings with the 10th overall pick on April 25th, 2024, in Detroit.

Why He’s Intriguing:
McCarthy is Minnesota’s quarterback of the future, and that speaks for itself.

A no-brainer here, VikingsVille wants to know when McCarthy will take the big job. It might happen in 2024 or bleed into 2025. The verdict basically depends on Sam Darnold and how he performs in the best setup of his professional life.

But by default, McCarthy is the summer’s most intriguing Viking. He’s the big hope. He alone basically determines the course of Vikings football for the next five-plus years if one assumes the team around him will be decent.

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).

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