Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (2024)

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (1)

Judd Zulgad

May 22, 2024 5:55 am CT

The Minnesota Vikings held their second day of Organized Team Activities on Tuesday in the team’s indoor facility. Rain was in the forecast, and the outdoor fields were already wet from overnight showers. Four quarterbacks and the majority of the roster were in attendance which allowed for some good reps to be had for the entire roster.

Here are some observations and notes from the day.

No rushing J.J. McCarthy

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (2)

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamash*ta-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. McCarthy got plenty of work on Tuesday, but the Vikings’ plan to show patience with the first-round pick was also on display.

McCarthy went 7-for-8 in seven-on-seven and 9-for-10 in teamwork, but he was paired with 2023 fifth-round pick Jaren Hall in throwing to primarily backup receivers during team drills. Veterans Sam Darnold and Nick Mullens worked with the starters.

This is coach Kevin O’Connell’s plan as he attempts to ease McCarthy into the NFL and apply as little pressure as possible. Darnold was signed to be the starting quarterback this season and, unless McCarthy has a phenomenal training camp, the third-overall pick in the 2018 draft will be the starter on Sept. 8 when the Vikings face the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

That is where Darnold began his career with the New York Jets and went 13-25 in 38 starts before trading to Carolina in April 2021. Now entering his seventh season with his fourth NFL team, Darnold is an example of what can happen when a high draft pick is thrust into a starting role before he’s ready.

The Vikings aren’t about to make that mistake with McCarthy.

Odd man out?

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (3)

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) throws a pass against the Detroit Lions in the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are likely to look to move a quarterback either before or at least during training camp. Darnold is the starter, McCarthy will get plenty of reps, and Hall got some starting experience last season. Assuming the Vikings want to continue developing Hall, that makes Mullens the likely candidate to be shopped.

Mullens, 29, appeared in five games with the Vikings last season after Kirk Cousins was injured and was winless in three starts. He finished with seven touchdown passes but threw eight interceptions.

The Vikings acquired Mullens from Las Vegas during training camp in 2022 for a 2024 seventh-round pick and General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah currently has only four picks in the 2025 draft. This doesn’t include the potential compensatory picks the Vikings could also be awarded.

If the Vikings can get a sixth—or seventh-round pick for Mullens, they will likely take it.

Dallas Turner brings versatility to the defense

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (4)

Apr 25, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner poses after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the No. 17 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings were thrilled to select edge rusher Dallas Turner after they made a draft-night trade with Jacksonville to move up to the 17th pick in the first round. The Vikings considered the former Alabama star to be the premier edge rusher in the draft, and many thought he would be a Top 10 pick.

One of the reasons why defensive coordinator Brian Flores wanted Turner was because of his versatility. Turner, who had 22.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss in three seasons at Alabama, is listed at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, and is likely to be moved all over the place by Flores.

The Vikings have added quality depth at the edge and also have free-agent pickups Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. Van Ginkel also brings versatility, meaning Flores can keep opponents guessing. Flores did that frequently last year, moving safety Josh Metellus all over the field.

Waiting on Justin Jefferson

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (5)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 07: Justin Jefferson speaks on SiriusXM at Super Bowl LVIII on February 07, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Wide receiver Justin Jefferson isn’t participating in OTAs—they are optional—which is what happened last year. A year ago, Jefferson said his absence was due to his busy schedule, not because he didn’t receive a contract extension after becoming eligible for one last spring.

Jefferson, who reportedly was close to signing just before the regular season, still hasn’t signed an extension that is certain to make him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL and one of the highest-paid non-quarterbacks in the league.

So when will it get done? There is speculation about that, but one must wonder if he will step on a field without a new deal. Jefferson missed seven games last season because of a hamstring injury, and it would be logical that he wouldn’t take any chances on the last season of his rookie contract.

This will become a big story if Jefferson doesn’t attend the Vikings’ three-day mandatory minicamp in June. Until then, it’s a situation worth monitoring.

Remainder of OTA schedule

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (6)

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman T.J. Smith (50) performs a drill during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

May 23, 28, 29 and 31

June 10 to 13

More Minicamp

Zulgad's observations from day two of Vikings' OTAs (2024)


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