Vikings Will Have a Sneaky Competition in Training Camp

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All eyes in Minnesota are on the NFL draft and the potential arrival of a new franchise quarterback, perhaps the first in decades. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has acquired another first-rounder, and picks 11 and 23 are the perfect starting point in trade talks. That new guy, whether Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, or Jayden Daniels, would surely compete with Sam Darnold in training camp.

Vikings Will Have a Sneaky Competition in Training Camp

Vikings Will Have a Sneaky Competition in Training Camp
Detroit Lions placekicker Parker Romo walks off the field after practice during training camp at Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility in Allen Park on Monday, July 24, 2023.

Darnold, a 2018 draft bust, has the best chance to succeed in the NFL as he has a competent supporting cast for the first time in his career. As long as Darnold can be a serviceable stopgap signal-caller, the incoming rookie would be without any pressure early in his stint with the purple team.

While the rookie passer could take his time, the placekicker is a player constantly under pressure. One missed kick can ruin games and, as Minnesota’s franchise history has proven, seasons.

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Greg Joseph, the guy who, for better or worse, handled the kicking duties in the last three seasons, walked out of the building in free agency, ironically, signing with the Green Bay Packers.

The Vikings, meanwhile, added former XFL kicker John Parker Romo. As a player without regular NFL season experience, the purple team envisions him competing for the job in training camp rather than just handing him the keys. Source? Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell.

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The skipper talked to the media earlier this week and dropped that bomb.

It’s a pretty easy evaluation when you put one or two guys competing against each other, possibly more, where you can put them in tougher situations, high-pressure situations, even in front of a training camp crowd or their teammates in the spring with some circumstances on making a kick or missing a kick and you can really start to see how guys respond.

I do want to have a competitive situation. I just think with how close games are in this league, and I know everybody loves going for fourth-down conversions as much as possible, but points are still a very, very important metric in a league as competitive as ours, and any time you can feel confident putting someone out there and knowing they’re going to ring the bell and get you three points that could be the difference in the game, I think it’s critical.

Kevin O’Connell

It might be somewhat cruel to put the players under stress and have them fear losing their jobs, but it is the only way to simulate the in-game pressure.

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After a long college career at Central Arkansas, Tulsa, and Virginia Tech, Romo went undrafted, but he has had stints with the Saints, Lions, and Bears since. His only meaningful on-field experience came in the XFL when he hit 17 of 19 field goals in 2023 and a (since broken) 57-yard record for the longest field goal in the developmental league.

The Vikings can now look to add one of the remaining free-agent kickers or opt to draft one next week. After the draft, there will also be a pool of undrafted rookies to choose from.

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