A Look at a Few Minnesota Vikings Position Battles: 13 Names at Four Positions

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) reacts during the second quarter against the Washington Huskies in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are just days away from rookie minicamp.

After that gets rolling, Minnesota will have OTAs, mandatory minicamp, training camp, and preseason to decide which of their current 90 players will make the final 53-man roster for Week 1 of the 2024 regular season.

Here is a look at a few names in what could be the most heated Vikings position battles throughout this summer.

Defensive Tackle

Sep 25, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (99) heads onto the field during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Contenders:

  • Jaquelin Roy
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Jonah Williams

Of course, Jonathan Bullard and Harrison Phillips should be expected to hold down starting roles for the third consecutive season in the Vikings defense. However, assuming Flores continues to utilize a 3-4 as his base defense, there is one more defensive tackle spot up for grabs.

Surprisingly, the Vikings did very little in terms of bringing in top-tier talent at the position. Instead, they brought in oodles of edge rushing help through free agency and the draft while relying on fringe signings at DT.

Jaquelin Roy is entering his second season in Minnesota after being selected in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft while both Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams were signed in free agency. Tillery was a first-round selection by the Los Angeles Chargers back in 2019, but he hasn’t ever lived up to that status while Williams is the latest name to come over from the 2021 LA Rams roster (Kevin O’Connell’s final season as OC for that team).

Williams may head into this battle as the favorite after starting 16 games during 2023 for the Rams. He has never been much of a pass rushing threat on the interior, but he can be a steady run stuffer.


Vikings Position Battles
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (11) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) talk during warmups prior to the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Contenders:

  • Mekhi Blackmon
  • Andrew Booth
  • Akayleb Evans
  • Shaq Griffin
  • Khyree Jackson

The cornerback room might be the most fascinating position battle for the Vikings this summer solely because it could go in so many different directions. The Vikings currently employ 11 players at the position, and Byron Murphy might be the only player with a guaranteed starting role in 2024.

Mekhi Blackmon very reasonably could capture a starting role after a strong rookie campaign in which he graded out as PFF’s 33rd-best cornerback (min. 300 snaps). Meanwhile, Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans are very different corners in terms of playstyle. Booth plays his best football when utilized in press man coverage while Evans performs at his best in zone.

Shaq Griffin is the only major free agency acquisition at the position while Khyree Jackson was added in the fourth round of the draft. Like Booth, both players perform best in man coverage, so these acquisitions could indicate that Flores wants to utilize more man this season.

Wide Receiver

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) celebrates after a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Contenders:

  • Jalen Nailor
  • Brandon Powell
  • Trent Sherfield

Of course, Jordan Addison and Justin Jefferson are at the top of the room, but the WR3 battle could be very interesting in Minnesota. The favorite should be Brandon Powell simply because he is the veteran in the room and held down the role well when Jefferson faced his hamstring injury last season.

However, Trent Sherfield showed in 2022 that he was capable of being a WR3 behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, catching 30 passes for 417 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Perhaps playing alongside star receivers again will help him.

Meanwhile, Jalen Nailor cannot be ruled out as a breakout candidate in 2024. He had a very strong conclusion to his rookie season in 2022 before injuries got the better of him in 2023. If Nailor can put together a healthy offseason, he certainly will be in the mix.


Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws a pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half in the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Contenders:

  • Sam Darnold
  • J.J. McCarthy

The QB battle will be the one on every Vikings fan’s mind for the next three months. Obviously, Kirk Cousins left in free agency, prompting Minnesota to bring in Sam Darnold via free agency. Then, they traded up to the 10th overall pick to make J.J. McCarthy the highest drafted quarterback in franchise history.

So, which player suits up as the starter in Week 1? Ultimately, it may come down to how quickly McCarthy is able to pick up the offense as well as the schedule (which will be unveiled on May 15th). If the Vikings face a bunch of playoff contenders early on, and T.J. Hockenson isn’t fully healthy to suit up, it may make more sense for McCarthy to sit for a few weeks.

However, the Vikings also find themselves in a perfect situation for a young QB to thrive. They have the talent at receiver. Their offensive line is improving. The Brian Flores defense should be even better than it was in 2023. If Minnesota gets antsy and throws McCarthy to the wolves, it wouldn’t be completely out of left field.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.