Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Presented by

Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings Draft Picks and Undrafted Rookies Heading to Minicamp

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town in the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

It should be another fun week around these parts, with Vikings draft picks and undrafted free agents set to participate in the team's rookie minicamp.

Hopefully each will allow himself a moment to take a deep breath and reflect on the opportunity ahead before diving headstrong into playbooks.

May also means we're closer and closer to the release of the 2024 schedule. That's one of my favorite days of the year. Even though we've known Minnesota's 2024 opponents since the end of the 2023 regular season, there's just something special about seeing specific dates of the matchups.

Let's get rolling on questions.

View portrait shots of Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy and OLB Dallas Turner who were selected in the First Round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

First off, SKOL BABY! I enjoyed the draft this year for the Vikings. The J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner picks got me very excited about the future of the team. I also love the fourth-round pick in Khyree Jackson. He is going to be a mismatch for a lot of these receivers in the league. This shall be interesting to see how we put all these pieces together after all the new additions via free agency, the draft and a lot of these interesting UDFAs (undrafted free agents).

— Austin Billings in Duncan, South Carolina

We'll start things off in the Upstate of South Carolina where some of my favorite people (friends and former colleagues) still reside.

I don't think Austin has the market cornered in terms of excitement about the selections of McCarthy and Turner — or Jackson for that matter.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell already has worked with analyst Pete Bercich to produce Film Session episodes on McCarthy (posted last week and embedded below this response) and Turner (be on the lookout for that one soon).

O'Connell and General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also hosted an off-the-record session last week in which they talked about each member of the Vikings draft class. The duo invited media members into the Thomson Reuters Vikings Draft Room at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center and showed highlights that illustrate different aspects of each pick's game.

While the content that was covered is off the record, I can sincerely say people should be excited about how the drafted players can help the Vikings. I'll also temper that statement by asking folks to realize every rookie's experience through the development process is a bit different.

I love the length and play style, as well as the solid tackling, that has shown up on Jackson's college film. Second-year pro Mekhi Blackmon posted a video of himself in which he was saying he liked what he saw on Jackson's highlights.

Jackson was the first of five players added in Rounds 4-7, and then Minnesota followed by agreeing to terms with 17 undrafted free agents. You can read more about those UDFAs here.

I love the selection of J.J. McCarthy but have a question. How does he perform when pressured?

— Gary Larsen

We sometimes go back and forth on the degree to which a team's W-L record should fall on a quarterback, but Michigan went 27-1 with McCarthy as its starter.

There's some high stakes involved at a program like that, with plenty of Big Ten games, as well as falling short of a national title in 2022 but returning to claim it all in 2023.

Now, there's plenty of talent on that Wolverines squad that accounted for 13 of the 257 players drafted this year.

A strong running game, for sure, but there were plenty of times that O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah where McCarthy was called on with a third-and-7-plus and delivered to sustain drives.

NFL teams are sure to present plenty of pressure challenges and looks for any young quarterback, but there's a few highlights out there of McCarthy avoiding pressure with pocket movement and extending a play for a substantial gain.

My favorite play I've seen was actually the trick play against the Rose Bowl where McCarthy made an incredible catch on a throwback and felt the heat of Turner speeding toward him. McCarthy knew he was going to get walloped but delivered a strike for a key gain.

That shows the trust Jim Harbaugh had in McCarthy, as well as the guts the quarterback plays with. That doesn't mean defenses won't affect him, but it does illustrate some qualities the Vikings are excited to build around.

The draft is now in the rearview mirror, so it is time to focus on Justin Jefferson. The market has been set with the A.J. Brown contract, so get on with it!

Just pay the man so the focus can be on the upcoming season with no unnecessary distractions.


— John Stephens in St. Albert, Minnesota

I hope Jefferson has felt the love of how much support he's received from fans in this space and beyond.

I understand how eager folks are to make things official, but I've also relayed multiple times the calmness Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell have consistently expressed with the progress of negotiations.

"I don't view this as stressful at all," Adofo-Mensah told KFAN's Dan Barreiro last week (including the tweet below so you can hear Adofo-Mensah say the words and not just take my word for it). "I don't personally think this is going to be a bad ending. Obviously, you get to this place where you're talking about a unique talent, a unique player, a unique competitor and an organization that wants to make right by him, so you're at this point in the process where you all agree he's special, and you're trying to figure out what special means in terms of guarantees and years and slope and different things like that."

I see CBS sports listed the kid from UCLA as the top UDFA.

— Craig Rotz in Boston, Massachusetts

There's been some steam directed toward Gabriel Murphy from multiple directions, including this post by CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso in which he ranked his top seven undrafted free agents "by talent, and of course, also by situation, which for these players, is absolutely critical."

Trapasso noted Minnesota's success with Ivan Pace, Jr., in 2023, before writing the following:

Murphy can be the Pace of the 2023 UDFA class for the Vikings, and the similarities between the two are striking. Lack of prototypical size and length was probably the reason Murphy went undrafted — Pace knows how that feels — but, like Pace, Murphy was outstandingly productive in college, and, actually where they differ is Murphy tested like a premier athlete for his respective position. He ran 4.68 in the 40 with a 39.5-inch vertical and [10-foot-3-inch broad jump]. While the 4.68 time isn't spectacular, the vertical and broad are both higher than the 80th percentile at the edge rusher spot.

Lastly, in 2023 with the Bruins, the slippery, hand-work magician registered 61 pressures on a mere 355 pass-rushing snaps (17.1% pressure-creation rate). He knows how to work past his length limitations, and frankly, he's not incredibly small at over 6-2 and 247 pounds. Yes, Minnesota traded up for the highly decorated and athletic Dallas Turner at No. 17. And they signed Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard in free agency. BUT, if any defensive coordinator will know how to deploy him, it's Brian Flores.

Murphy received a draft projection of Round 5 from NFL Media's Lance Zierlein, who noted Murphy's "skill and production" has made up for his size. "He's short-armed (30 ½ inches), which will worry teams on the pro level, but his hands are so sudden and polished that it tends to ease concerns. … Murphy could struggle to survive against run blockers who square him up, but he typically finds a way to slither out of sustain attempts on the collegiate level."

That last part really reminded me of Pace, who made it very difficult last year for blockers to square him up on his way to a highly productive rookie season.

Do you think anyone can watch Levi Drake Rodriguez's videoconference without smiling and feeling joyful? I think Lindsey Young was spot on saying that LDR's energy that day was "palpable."

I'm hopeful that our coaches can harness LDR's energy (!!!) and that his talent matches his effervescent personality.

All the best and SKOL,

— Beatriz

Hopefully most of you have been able to acquaint yourself with Rodriguez's story so far. It's been incredible to learn more about this young man that landed on the radar of Vikings scouts last fall after a cold call to Texas A&M-Commerce.

Rodriguez was revealed as Prospect X last week. That series was executed excellently by The Athletic's Kalyn Kahler. Here's a link to the pre-draft feature and post-draft reveal by Kahler.

Lindsey and I (and our VEN colleagues) are excited to have more opportunities to tell the stories of Rodriguez and other newcomers while continuing to cover players who have been here longer.

View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2024 NFL Draft.

I like everything that the Vikings GM has been doing but one thing, and that is when he is negotiating trades of draft picks. Whenever we move down, we don't seem to get enough, but when we move up, we seem to give up a huge ransom. Do you think the Vikings should get someone who is experienced and an aggressive negotiator to help with these matters in the future?

— Byron J. in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

There are a few different valuations of picks from the opener through the final pick without incorporating other factors that can drive up or drive down prices.

Adofo-Mensah's background on Wall Street provided a foundation for high-stakes negotiations.

The selection of 14 consecutive offensive players to start this year's draft meant there were some elite defensive players who normally would have gone in the Top 10 (Turner in most people's minds) most years. Viewing Turner as such likely increased the offers that Jacksonville was receiving from teams to move up to No. 17.

As far as moving down, sometimes there will be situations where getting something over nothing (and still selecting the player you would anyway) is better than staying because the offer wasn't as high as some elsewhere in the draft.

We've kind of seen a variance in approach through three drafts led by Adofo-Mensah, who is incredibly self-reflective and consistently striving to improve his process.

View photos of the undrafted free agents the Vikings have agreed to terms with following the 2024 NFL Draft.

I was reading about the free agent wide receivers, Ty James and Devron Harper from Mercer and Jeshaun Jones from Maryland.

Ty James had 13 receptions for 351 yards in a game. This is very impressive. I know we are looking for a receiver to replace K.J. Osborn. I can't seem to turn my back on N'Keal Harry. I think if he was given a little wiggle room, he will start to shine. I hope this year Jalen Nailor can stay healthy and shine as coaches thought he would. We did not draft a receiver but one of these guys will rise. Note: I had a lot of hope for Jalen Reagor. I wish him a great career. Thanks for listening to our crazy. Oh! I just knew it would be Michael Penix, Jr., that we would have drafted. I missed.

— Rodger Wilmore in Sacramento, California

James is 6-foot-2 and 200 and did turn in a 351-yard day at Samford to conclude the 2022 season with a school-record 1,105 yards. He followed that with 1,130 yards last season, continuing some impressive production.

Harper is only 5-9 and 170, but he had his hands in a bit of everything at Mercer, posing a threat as a receiver, runner and returner.

Jones is 6-1 and 188. He recorded the most receiving touchdowns by a Terrapins freshman (five) since Stefon Diggs in 2012 and finished with 2,040 receiving yards.

Osborn delivered many times in the clutch for Minnesota and played a significant role when the Vikings went three-wide or filled in while Jefferson was injured.

Harry offers tremendous size (6-4 and 225) and some impressive traits we saw glimpses of last preseason before dealing with injuries. I'm curious to see how a full offseason could benefit him, even though the Vikings will be changing quarterbacks.

Nailor (6-0 and 190) is a player coaches have been excited about implementing. He started to come around by the end of his rookie season but last year was hampered by injuries.

I'll join Rodger in wishing Reagor (and Osborn) well in New England.

In your opinion, did the Vikings complete their draft objectives? And if not, what team needs are left to be filled before now and training camp?

— Ed Helinski in Auburn, New York

Address the quarterback position with a high draft pick after a comprehensive evaluation? McCarthy checks that box.

Retain the other first-round pick to add a player who is likely to make a fast and strong impact in Brian Flores' defense? Turner checks this one.

Make an addition at cornerback and add to the offensive and defensive lines? Jackson at corner, Walter Rouse (projected as a tackle) and Michael Jurgens (a player with experience at guard and center) on the offensive line and Rodriguez on the interior of the d-line offer check marks.

Help the team's efforts to replace kicker Greg Joseph? The selection of Will Reichard — the NCAA's all-time leading scorer — puts a checkmark there. Reichard will be in competition this offseason with John Parker Romo, who was already signed as a free agent this offseason.

So, I think most would agree that the Vikings were able to meet multiple objectives in this year's draft.

Ultimately, the success of each player remains to be determined, but the way the draft unfolded offered the chance to address multiple spots where the Vikings wanted to make additions.

We'll have rookie minicamp this week, and then the first-year players will start joining veterans for the rest of the offseason program.

With J.J. [McCarthy] being the No. 1 pick and the amount of enthusiasm shown, there will be a lot of pressure on [O'Connell] to start him right away. Will J.J. have to earn the starting job? If he does earn the job, every Vikings fan should be ready for a hell of season IMO!

— Scott S.

I think O'Connell is going to be committed to an honest assessment of McCarthy's development, and Minnesota's leadership wants to foster that environment. His years of experience as a position coach and coordinator (and player of the position) have really reinforced the importance of a quarterback's readiness offering the best chance of success.

The Vikings remain excited to work with Sam Darnold as they develop McCarthy.

As last year reminded us, plenty can change within a season.

Note to NFC North QBs:

Better get rid of it 'cuz WE ARE COMING!!!

Jonathan Greenard

Andrew Van Ginkel

Dallas Turner

The Hitman

— Gary Lipsey

The Vikings are replacing Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum, who each turned in successful seasons with Flores, by adding multiple prongs to the attack plan.

Flores said he started drawing up ideas for Turner on the opening night of the draft. I'm sure he's already got a few things in mind for free agent additions Greenard and Van Ginkel, as well.

Then, "The Hitman" Harrison Smith should get some opportunities to rush the passer, as well. His 3.0 sacks at Carolina last year took over the game and secured Minnesota's first victory of 2023. They also moved him to 19.5 career sacks.

He can bolster his numbers that already are in comparison to safeties who have recently been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Smith needs 1.0 sack to tie LeRoy Butler's 20.5 career sacks, and according to league stats, Smith is only 20 tackles shy of tying John Lynch.

To be honest, I believe this year is going to be the year we see if Coach O'Connell is a true leader and head coach. We all know he can run an offense. In my opinion, he needs to let some of that go to his OC and head the team as the head coach. Can he pull everyone together: coaches, players and personnel.

The only way I see that being proven is to take control of the North.

With the talent we have even with a question mark at QB there is no reason we shouldn't take the north back.

Can we close games out without taking our foot off the peddle and playing prevent D and offense and just flat out dominate other teams. Those are my big questions for this season and coach. What are your thoughts? Thanks for taking time to read this.

Skol Viking Nation,

— Jeff Wiebold (fan for 55 years — just once before I die, win it all!)

Through two seasons, we've seen how O'Connell has been able to handle the success the team put together in 2022 and his determination through a disappointing 2023.

Most teams with major changes at quarterback (and across the lineup) are rarely projected to be playoff teams, but there's plenty of things to be either excited about or optimistic about with this team.

That doesn't, however, change the fact that the NFC North is expected to be one of the stronger divisions in the NFL in 2024.

It's possible that the Vikings could do things well and reap rewards, do things well but not enough to reap the full goals, or not do things well. I think the latter is far less likely than the first two options.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.