3 (Overlooked) Vikings Veterans Being Pushed by Recent Draft Picks

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum (24) reacts after a stop against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing talent aboard during the NFL Draft must be a bit unnerving for Vikings veterans (and, more broadly, players around the league). NFL athletes get a lot of perks with their job, but job security isn’t among them.

Since the event ended, there has been a fair bit of speculation about who could be in or out in Minnesota. In some instances, the message can be pretty clear. If, for instance, the Vikings had hopped up for Bijan Robinson, then we’d be staring down a 99.9% certainty that Dalvin Cook would indeed be heading elsewhere.

In other instances, though, the ramifications of draft picks aren’t quite as clear. As a result, we’re running down a trio of roster spots and the veterans present who are impacted by recent selections.

The Overlooked Players and 3 Vikings Veterans

1) Jordan Addison <———> Jalen Reagor

After trading a pair of draft picks to get Jalen Reagor, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may be a touch disappointed. No one is debating Reagor’s talent. His effectiveness, though, certainly leaves much to be desired.

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Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Reagor. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Perhaps his main job last season was to revitalize the punt return. Instead, he mostly flopped, regularly failing to make any meaningful difference with his returns. His 26 returns went for just 167 yards, a paltry 6.4-yard average. His longest went for 25 yards. Minnesota will be hoping for much more of that in the upcoming season.

On offense, Reagor couldn’t breakthrough. He picked up 8 receptions, 104 yards, and a TD. More concerningly, he contributed to Kirk Cousins’ deep interception against the Colts. Not giving one’s all on a deep ball is a surefire way to get next to no opportunity in an offense. The coach will stop putting the player out there and the QB won’t throw his way when he’s on the field.

Pair of Vikings Draft Picks
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison on stage after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Most have assumed that adding Jordan Addison means things are looking a bit more challenging for K.J. Osborn. In many ways, that’s true; he was the WR2 going into the draft but came out as the WR3. Osborn, though, isn’t going anywhere. He’ll have a spot on the team.

Addison’s addition slots everyone down a spot. Jefferson is #1, Addison #2, Osborn is #3, and then it’s wide open. Jalen Nailor should be considered the favorite for #4. Can Reagor justify being #5? Let’s not forget that Addison has some punt return experience.

Reagor is legitimately fighting for his roster spot, especially when we remember the addition of Brandon Powell to further increase special teams competition. Failing to show something during the offseason could mean Adofo-Mensah looks toward a trade or release. Still just 24, Reagor was a 1st-round selection in 2020 NFL Draft (infamously one spot ahead of Jefferson).

2) Jay Ward <———> Camryn Bynum

Bynum was a college CB who transitioned to safety in the NFL. He played a ton in 2023. In fact, he was one of the rare players to play a full 100% of the snaps. That’s right: Bynum was on the field for the entirety of the 2022 season’s defensive struggle. Is that a good thing?

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Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Ed Donatell’s defese was completely overmatched on a week-in, week-out basis. Far too often, they looked completely disinterested in slowing down the other team’s passing attack. A lot of Vikings fans have a lot of pent up frustration about seeing average offenses looks like the 2007 Patriots when they faced Minnesota.

Bynum allowed nearly 66% of passes into his coverage to be completed. All together, these completions went for 479 yards and 8 TDs. QBs had a 123.0 passer rating when targeting him. NFL defensive coordinators have a term for numbers like these: yikes.

Jan 2, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) breaks up a pass to Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Mershawn Rice (9) during the first half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Ward is a mystery. Is he a slot corner? Should be line up along the outside? Or maybe being a safety is better. Following the draft, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acknowledged that the situation is a bit ambiguous. Ward may slide into a few different spots.

The new regime has shown very little loyalty to players chosen by the previous regime. Camryn Bynum could end up being a roster cut if it’s between him and the recent 4th-round selection.

3) Jaren Hall <———> Nick Mullens

Of course, Kirk Cousins gets all the attention. That’s the cost of doing business for the QB1. Major money means major attention. If he wanted to fly under the radar and get less criticism, then accepting below market value is likely to get him there. Insisting on fully guaranteed deals comes with the opposite effect.

Enough of the salary cap lecture, though.

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball against the New York Giants during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Hall’s most immediate competition is actually with Nick Mullens, a journeyman veteran who is the current leader in the QB2 competition. Yes, there is zero competition for the starting job. During the offseason, we’ve seen co-owner Mark Wilf, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, HC Kevin O’Connell, and Cousins all articulate their excitement about the QB being in Year 2 in the same offense. He’s not going to be on the bench, folks.

Nov 26, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) throws during warmups before a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, we’ll wonder who is the primary clipboard holder. If the unlikely happens and Cousins misses time due to injury, who gets the nod? The safe money is on Mullens since he has a year in MN already and plenty of starting experience. Hall, though, represents upside.

If he shows enough growth as a rookie, Jaren Hall may end up being the QB2 in 2024 and beyond. Cutting Mullens next offseason saves $1.9 million.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.