Vikings Sign Standout XFL Wide Receiver, Cut 2020 Draft Pick

O'Connell, Cousins, Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings watches during warmups alongside quarterback Kirk Cousins prior to a game against the Chicago Bears in January 2023.

The road to an NFL roster isn’t always a straight line, which the Minnesota Vikings‘ newest addition has proven over his four-year journey to the team.

On Tuesday, May 23, the Vikings announced they had signed star XFL wide receiver Dontavian “Lucky” Jackson to the roster, creating room for him by waiving injury-plagued outside linebacker Kenny Willekes.

Jackson appeared in 10 games for the D.C. Defenders in 2023, racking up 36 catches for 573 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers slated him ninth in the league in receptions and fifth in receiving yards, per Jackson also caught a couple of passes and totaled 33 yards in the XFL Championship Game, which the 9-1 Defenders lost to the Arlington Renegades.

Lucky Jackson Made 4 Stops in 4 Years Before Landing With Vikings

GettyOutside linebacker Kenny Willekes of the Minnesota Vikings pursues running back Derrick Gore of the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL preseason game in August 2021.

Before making his mark in the XFL and earning a shot with the Vikings this summer, Jackson was the definition of a journeyman wide receiver.

He played in the Canadian Football League as a member of the Edmonton Elks in 2022. Per Craig Peters of, Jackson was a member of The Spring League in 2021, a now defunct developmental program that lasted for five years. Before that, Jackson played collegiately at Western Kentucky from 2016-19. He appeared in 51 games, recording 209 catches for 2,680 yards and 13 touchdowns while enrolled at the university.

Jackson replaces Willekes on the Vikings’ roster, a former seventh-round selection out of Michigan State in 2020 who tore his ACL ahead of his rookie season. He also missed the entirety of the 2022 campaign due to another injury. Willekes appeared in six games in 2021, tallying 18 tackles, including two tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks and one pass breakup, per Pro Football Reference.

Lucky Jackson Joins Jordan Addison as New Members of Vikings’ Receiver Room

Jordan Addison

Courtesy of VikingsWide receiver Jordan Addison of the Minnesota Vikings.

Should he ultimately prove himself, Jackson will start at the bottom and earn his way up to a 53-man roster spot in the same fashion that he worked his way up from a small school in Western Kentucky to an obscure D-league to Canada and finally to the newest iteration of the XFL. Based on his history, the smarter bet is probably made on the man they call “Lucky” rather than against him.

By contrast, the Vikings’ big splash at wide receiver entered the organization on top this offseason and now must fight to prove he belongs there. Minnesota selected Jordan Addison out of USC with the No. 23 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Just one year before, Addison won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver as a member of the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell was videotaped immediately following the pick saying that Addison is a “Day-1 starter,” presumably alongside All-Pro Justin Jefferson. The Vikings also have K.J. Osborn on the roster, who produced another quality season in 2022 — his second in a row.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson is another top option for quarterback Kirk Cousins in the Vikings’ passing game. However, after those four players, the crop of pass-catchers in Minnesota is relatively thin. With a little luck (pun absolutely intended), Jackson could find himself playing among one of the youngest and most dynamic receiving corps in the NFL this season.

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