Projecting the Vikings starters for the 2024 NFL season

Minnesota Vikings CB Mekhi Blackmon
Minnesota Vikings CB Mekhi Blackmon / David Berding/GettyImages

With two months until training camp, the Minnesota Vikings have begun their preparations for the 2024 NFL season. Players will fly in for voluntary offseason team activities (commonly known as OTAs) this week and minicamp will take place from June 4-6.

But while seeing players in purple jerseys causes some excitement, Vikings fans are more concerned about who will be on the field for the Week 1 opener against the New York Giants.

With the departure of Kirk Cousins and the arrival of several new players, the Vikings starting lineup could look much different than it did a year ago. Here’s a look at some of the players who have the inside track to a starting job and how it could affect the lineup to begin the 2024 season.

Projecting the MInnesota Vikings starters for the 2024 NFL season


Sam Darnold

Fans will chime for J.J. McCarthy to start at quarterback, but the Vikings seem committed to not throwing him into the fire until he’s ready. With that in mind, the Vikings signed Sam Darnold as a placeholder in free agency.

Darnold has had failed stints with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers, but the Vikings believe he can thrive with a better infrastructure. With Kevin O’Connell at the controls, he’ll have to get the most out of Darnold to make it work or hope that McCarthy comes along faster than expected during OTAs and training camp.

Running Back

Aaron Jones

The Vikings released Alexander Mattison before the start of the new league year and replaced him with free-agent signing Aaron Jones. Jones’s availability was shocking, considering he led the NFL with 411 yards over the final four weeks and ran for 226 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries during the playoffs, but he should add a more reliable presence to the Minnesota backfield.

Ty Chandler could also make things interesting after a strong finish to last season but Jones should be the starter heading into Week 1.


C.J. Ham

Ham has continued to stick around the Vikings even though they don’t use the fullback role often. With just 65 snaps last season, Ham has been more of a special teams player during the O’Connell era but should be a team captain and an obvious choice when the Vikings go heavy.

Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison

While aggregators and reporters want to create drama, there’s little suspense at the wide receiver position. Justin Jefferson will likely sign a lucrative contract extension and Addison’s role is secure after grabbing 70 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie season.

The Vikings’ depth is a bigger question after K.J. Osborn signed with the New England Patriots in free agency, but Brandon Powell, Jalen Nailor, and Trent Sherfield will have the chance to be the next man up.

Tight End

Robert Tonyan

If the Vikings had their way, T.J. Hockenson would be ready to return after suffering a multi-ligament knee injury on Christmas Eve. But last week’s addition of Tonyan signals that Hockenson may not be ready for Week 1, leaving an open competition for the starting tight end spot.

Josh Oliver was a big free agent signing one year ago but is locked into a specific role. Johnny Mundt took over Hockenson’s role after the injury last December but is more suited to be the third tight end.

Meanwhile, Tonyan has experience as the top tight end in a Sean McVay-style system, grabbing 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns under Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers in 2020, and can fill in until Hockenson is ready to go.

Offensive Tackles

Christian Darrisaw (LT) and Brian O’Neill (RT)

There’s no surprise here, as Darrisaw and O’Neill are locked in to the Vikings' starting lineup. Darrisaw continues to be one of the league’s fastest-rising offensive tackles with PFF’s third-highest pass-blocking grade (85.3), and O’Neill should return to form another year removed from a partially torn Achilles tendon suffered in December 2022.

Offensive Guard

Blake Brandel (LG) and Ed Ingram (RG)

While the tackles are locked in, the Vikings have questions at guard. Dalton Risner is still a free agent and the Vikings gave Brandel a three-year, $9.5 million contract to presumably replace him at left guard. Ed Ingram also cut his pressures allowed by 33 percent from his rookie season in 2022 but still needs to take another step forward to become a long-term solution.


Garrett Bradbury

O’Connell got the most out of Bradbury in his first season with the Vikings but the former first-round pick took a step back while battling a back injury last year. With no competition in sight, Bradbury figures to be the starter this year but it’s a valid question how long that could last if he struggles again or seventh-round pick Michael Jurgens impresses in training camp.

Defensive Line

Harrison Phillips, Jerry Tillery, and Jonathan Bullard

Phillips was a workhorse for the Vikings, trailing only Danielle Hunter in total snaps among interior defenders and edge rushers. While Phillips was constantly on the field, he wound up having to do too much, leading the Vikings to search for depth this offseason.

The Vikings didn’t make meaningful moves to address this in the draft but re-signed Jonathan Bullard (46.3 overall grade from PFF) and Jerry Tillery, who will battle Jacquelin Roy for the nose tackle spot.

Edge Rushers

Dallas Turner and Jonathan Greenard

The Vikings lost Hunter in free agency, but they somehow improved their pass rush this offseason. Greenard is coming off a career-high 12.5 sacks with the Houston Texans last season, but he’s also battled injuries, which makes adding Andrew Van Ginkel a key acquisition.

Minnesota also were fortunate when Turner fell down the board but an aggressive trade helped them land one of the top edge-rushers in the draft. With UDFA Gabriel Murphy and incumbent Andre Carter II on the roster, Brian Flores will have plenty of ways to get after the quarterback.

Inside Linebacker

Blake Cashman and Ivan Pace Jr.

The Vikings gave Cashman a three-year, $22.5 million contract in free agency, and he figures to start next to pass. A strong pass-rusher, he pairs perfectly with pace, but the usage of both players might be tied to matchups next season. Assuming the Vikings use a 3-4 base, these two should get the nod.


Byron Murphy Jr. and Mekhi Blackmon

It’s hard to get a read on which corners will start the year for the Vikings. Murphy started the year but performed better as a slot corner, while Blackmon was strictly on the outside. The Vikings added Shaquille Griffin in free agency and Khyree Jackson in the draft but incumbents Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. should also figure into the battle.


Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum

Smith agreed to return for a 13th season so it’s highly unlikely he came back for a reserve role. Bynum had a strong rebound season under Flores, and he could be interchanged with Josh Metellus, who served in a variety of roles last season.

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