Vikings Holding out Hope for One Speedy Viking

Giants DC Has Hilarious Comp for Kevin O'Connell
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Don’t write him off just yet.

Vikings Holding out Hope for One Speedy Viking

That’s the June takeaway for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor, who enters a pivotal Year No. 3 in 2024.

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According to the team’s coaching staff, Nailor might have a larger role in store for 2024 than most fans have realized this offseason. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert revealed several insightful Vikings-themed thoughts after minicamp, and among them was the franchise’s high opinion of Nailor.

“Nailor, a sixth-round pick in 2022, struggled with injuries throughout 2023 and into the 2024 offseason. He missed mandatory minicamp because of the flu. But in limited playing time during his first two NFL seasons, and more importantly in practice, he has proven a slippery target that defenders have trouble tracking,” Seifert wrote. “In two seasons, he has taken a total of 160 snaps and run routes on 72 of them. Vikings quarterbacks have targeted him on 20 of those routes, and he has caught 12 for 208 yards and a touchdown.”

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Nailor recorded 9 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown in his rookie campaign (2022), along with some flamboyant clips to satiate fans’ appetites for his long-term trajectory. Incidentally, Nailor did most of his damage in “garbage time” that season and will hope to repeat the production  and then some  in the middle of games at some point in 2024.

In that limited sample, Nailor showed the gumption to thrive at the NFL level, and it will be up to him to determine if he’s got the grit for WR3 or WR4 on an every week basis. He laid the blueprint down the stretch of 2022.

WR Returns
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Seifert then referenced Kevin O’Connell’s musings on Nailor: “Jalen has always been a guy that when he’s healthy and on the field, he shows up on every single opportunity he’s gotten. That’s our challenge to him. Sometimes things are out of your control and we understand that, but for him to take that next step, we’re going to need to see him out there a lot as part of that group.”

A productive Nailor — with no injuries — would assuredly solve Minnesota’s current WR3 debate. The man is faster than a cheetah, and Minnesota could use some speed in the WR room. Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, of course, possess noteworthy speed, but Nailor is a burner’s burner.

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.

Otherwise, if Nailor does not emerge, Minnesota has a couple more men vying for the WR3 job, including punt returner Brandon Powell and newcomer free agent Trent Sherfield. The Vikings also have a handful of undrafted free agents hungry to compete for WR3.

Don’t write off Nailor as the 2024 WR3 — because O’Connell’s endorsement is meaningful. There’s still hope.

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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