Sam Darnold Shines at Vikings Minicamp

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota VikingsCredit: Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings’ signed quarterback Sam Darnold during free agency this offseason in the hopes that he provides a smooth bridge transition to eventual starting rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy. At this stage of the offseason, it’s quite clear the Vikings plan is to start Darnold for most, if not all, the regular season.

This is not a knock to J.J. McCarthy in any sort of way, but it’s been preached and heavily emphasized by head coach Kevin O’Connell that they are going to be very patient with McCarthy’s development.

Despite the coaching staff being patient with McCarthy, it already sounds like Darnold is flourishing in O’Connell’s scheme. One beat writer for the Minnesota Vikings had high praise for what Darnold has been able to do over the last three days at mandatory minicamp.

Sam Darnold looks calm and confident running the Minnesota Vikings’ offense

According to Alec Lewis (The Athletic), Darnold has looked calm, confident, and showed consistency over mandatory minicamp taking place this week from Tuesday, June 4th to Thursday, June 6th. Not only did the 26-year-old impress, but he also took every first-team rep over the course of those three days.

Darnold looked calm, confident and prepared for what is likely to be another starting opportunity. Thursday, he surveyed receivers in a seven-on-seven rep, then placed the ball perfectly in stride toward second-year receiver Jordan Addison. Once Addison caught the ball and turned upfield, multiple teammates who had been watching from behind Darnold yelled, “Thatta boy, Sam!”

Darnold’s consistency stood out for three days. He connected with Jefferson on a couple of over routes Wednesday, dropping the ball into hard-to-see windows. He anticipated cuts and displayed touch.

Alec Lewis (The Athletic)

Is Sam Darnold the Minnesota Vikings’ starter this upcoming season?

Not only did Lewis note how calm and confident he looked, but he also mentioned the connection he already has with wide receivers’ Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. Even defensive tackle Harrison Phillips — who played his college ball at Stanford in the PAC-12 at the same time as Darnold, while he was at USC — complimented his arm talent.

“I know firsthand how much arm talent he has. This is the best team he’s been on. This is the best system for him. He’s hopefully going to find the ceiling of his play this season for us.”

Harrison Phillips (The Athletic)

It’s becoming more and more definitive that Darnold will be the opening day starter this season. Lewis specifically mentioned how prepared he appeared to be, for what might be his final training camp QB1 opportunity. Meanwhile, McCarthy literally isn’t even on the same practice field as the starters many times.

It’s clear the Vikings preference is to have J.J. McCarthy sit as long as possible behind Darnold. In a perfect world, that likely means the entire season, however, nobody knows how the season will go.

Related: Mike Florio Accuses Vikings Beat Writers of Burying Justin Jefferson Trade Rumors

If the Minnesota Vikings go on a losing streak or Darnold continues to turn the ball over, like has in the past, his leash could get extremely short. In the end, it’s Sam’s job to lose at this point. Will he continue to shine into regular season games or will he continue to only be an “offseason all-star“? Only time will tell.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: