Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell Names Top QB: ‘Hit the Ground Running’

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

The Minnesota Vikings traded up to select Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2024 draft. Head Coach Kevin O’Connell has been outspoken about their optimism that he can become their quarterback of the future.

However, that will be in due time and the Vikings’ coaching staff is not rushing it.

That makes it no surprise that O’Connell named veteran Sam Darnold as the top QB going into training camp.

“We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that,” O’Connell told reporters on June 12. “But, yeah, I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based upon the spring he’s had and, really, where he’s at in his career, in his quarterback journey, and what he’s been able to do. Coming in and really hit the ground running and really kind of take advantage of a competitive situation.”

Darnold, 27, signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Vikings in free agency.

The Vikings have one more day of OTAs on June 13. Training camp opens on July 27.

The former No. 3 overall pick in 2018, Darnold was drafted by the New York Jets. He has also spent time with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. It is that latter stint that has emboldened O’Connell to bring the young journeyman in.

He also scouted Darnold during the pre-draft process. Vikings Quarterbacks Coach Josh McCown was also Darnold’s teammate in New York.

O’Connell has touted Darnold’s growth, specifically coming from a similar system with the 49ers.

Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell: ‘Always Been a Fan of Sam Darnold’

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings

GettySam Darnold #14 of the Minnesota Vikings.

“Always been a fan of Sam,” O’Connell said on “The Insiders” on March 25. “I’ve known him for a long time. Watching him progress through his college career and then ultimately being a high draft pick, having done a full process on him then. We all go through a quarterback journey in this league.

“It’s a journey where you learn and you continue to grow and ultimately you just want to find yourself in a position in the future to be the best version of yourself and all the things you’ve learned along the way.”

In his latest comments, O’Connell was sure to commend the other quarterbacks on the Vikings roster for their efforts to improve this offseason.

He also left them with a message to hold on to.

Kevin O’Connell Shares Message to Vikings QBs

J.J. McCarthy, Sam Darnold, Jaren Hall, Nick Mullens, Minnesota Vikings

GettyQuarterbacks J.J. McCarthy #9, Sam Darnold #14, Jaren Hall #16 and Nick Mullens #12 of the Minnesota Vikings

“At the same time, JJ’s really improved, Nick Mullens has had a great spring, and Jaren [Hall] has also improved,” O’Connell said. “I’ve told all four of those guys, ‘Look, depth charts are great, and it’s great to understand where I’m at currently today. But that’ll mean really nothing about you know the future. That’ll be nothing about a week or two out.

“Most importantly we played four of them last year, including one guy who who was not in our building throughout the offseason or training camp and relied on him to come in and win a game. And then try to play it out from there. So I have a total understanding of, ‘We only control so much in this whole thing.’ And that’s what I’ve challenged the quarterbacks to do is control what you can.

“Your preparation, how detailed can you be, and can you stack good periods of practice together, good days together. And before you know it, you’re looking up and you – it’s not about the camp you’ve had. It’s about your readiness to help the Minnesota Vikings win.”