5 Vikings players already turning heads in OTAs in 2024

Minnesota Vikings WR Jordan Addison
Minnesota Vikings WR Jordan Addison / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Minnesota Vikings held their offseason team activities (known commonly as OTAs) over the past two weeks. It’s a time where simple clips become evidence for and against players and where fans breathe in one last gasp of football before everyone takes a month off in July.

But while OTA analysis should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s important for players looking to make an impact.

In the past two weeks, several Vikings have started to already turn heads in practice and it could serve as a springboard for a big year in 2024.

5 Minnesota Vikings players already turning heads in OTAs

Dallas Turner - EDGE

A lot has been made about the cost of the two trades the Vikings used to acquire Dallas Turner with the 17th overall pick in last month's NFL Draft, but according to Christian Darrisaw, he’s worth the price of admission.

Darrisaw gushed over Turner in a media session with reporters on Wednesday and believes that Turner has some traits that are even better than former Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter.

“I think Dallas is going to be special. ...I was excited to see that draft pick go across the board. He’s definitely going to help us. …His explosiveness, he’s got that burst. He’s quick. He had a spin move last week that was quicker than Danielle’s. It was like, 'Damn. This guy is going to be special.'”

While the Vikings added Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel as pass rushers in free agency this year, Turner may have the most upside and could provide a big boost to Brian Flores’s defense.

Jordan Addison - WR

Jordan Addison is coming off a strong rookie year for the Vikings, catching 70 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns. But early returns from OTAs suggest he could be in for a bigger year.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis reported that Addison has been manning most of the X-receiver snaps in the absence of Justin Jefferson and looks “different from the rest of the wideouts” as the Vikings went through OTAs.

“He simply looks different than the rest of the wideouts in the way he hinges off routes and glides across the field,” Lewis wrote. “The Vikings will need him to step up if tight end T.J. Hockenson misses time early, and Addison looks ready to do so.”

The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling also noted that Addison has been refining his plan off the line of scrimmage and “had no plan [and] did too much freelancing last year." With a new quarterback throwing him passes – whether it’s Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy – Addison will be counted on to take another step forward.

Blake Brandel - OL

The Vikings brought back Dalton Risner on a one-year contract on Wednesday but that might not be an indictment on Blake Brandel.

Brandel returned to the Vikings on a three-year, $9 million contract that suggests he will be in a starting role next season and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was bullish on his development during a press conference last week.

"I’m really excited about Blake. I feel like he gets bigger every time I see him. He’s just a massive man on the inside, but he’s in great shape. He’s always been very coachable.

You talk about technique, fundamentals, footwork, hand placement, all of the things that are critical for the O-line – one false step for an O-lineman could be a catastrophe – it’s been very encouraging so far with him stepping into that starting spot on the left.”

Brandel’s role in 2024 is yet to be determined. If he beats out Risner, he could start at left guard. But don’t rule out the possibility of Brandel beating out Ed Ingram for the right guard spot, as he spent most of his time there after switching to guard last season.

Mekhi Blackmon - CB

Akayleb Evans started as an outside cornerback along with Byron Murphy Jr. for most of the 2023 season, but a pair of benchings late in the season put his job in question heading into this season. With the door open, it appears Mekhi Blackmon is ready to kick it down.

Lewis reported that Blackmon played most of the snaps at outside corner on Wednesday and began jawing with teammate Brandon Powell after a pass breakup. While Camryn Bynum reportedly stepped in to smooth things over, it appears Blackmon is earning the trust of the coaching staff and could push Evans for a starting spot – or perhaps a job – in training camp.

J.J. McCarthy - QB

McCarthy isn’t on the verge of taking the starting job from Darnold, but he has made a solid first impression even weeks before he put on a purple jersey. 

Quarterbacks coach Josh McCown is one member of the coaching staff that has been impressed with McCarthy’s physical talent noting he threw the ball well both during his Pro Day in March and in a private workout leading up to the draft.

“When we got him on the field, it was like another version of his pro day, where you really felt like he was spinning the ball.”

The Vikings social media team has also understood the assignment, showing McCarthy rifling passes to different receivers over the course of the team’s OTAs.

It’s unknown how long it will take for McCarthy to hit the field once the regular season begins, but he definitely has the talent to succeed. If he finds a way to put some touch on his passes, it could be a matter of time before McCarthy is leading the Vikings on Sundays.

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