Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Feared ‘Jinx’ Ahead of Draft Pick: ‘Huge Value’

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

The energy inside the Minnesota Vikings’ war room was high after the trade up to select J.J. McCarthy with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2024 draft. But there was still some anxiety among the privileged few taking part.

Minnesota still held the No. 23 overall pick and, as the draft unfolded seemed to be in prime position to land one of the draft’s premier defensive players.

As that moment approached, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah called in another trade.

In Head Coach Kevin O’Connell’s estimation, the Vikings’ target was always Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner. But the third-year skipper didn’t want to be overconfident with a few picks before the Vikings went on the clock.

“It’s possible Dallas Turner gets to us,” O’Connell said in a behind-the-scenes video shared by the Vikings on May 20. “I don’t want to jinx it until I see it actually happen.

“I think Turner would be the guy we would still hang in there for.”

O’Connell called the possibility a “huge value” in agreement with Vikings senior vice president of player personnel Ryan Grigson. The head coach said he did not expect such a long wait for a defensive player to be selected.

There was an air of surprise in the room when edge rusher Laiatu Latu’s name was called at No. 15 overall to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Vikings had their opportunity.

Dallas Turner ‘Started Crying’ When Vikings Called

Dallas Turner, Minnesota Vikings

GettyDallas Turner #15 of the Minnesota Vikings.

Adofo-Mensah pounced after the Seattle Seahawks selected defensive tackle Byron Murphy II with the No. 16 overall pick, calling Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke to deal for the No. 17 pick to select Turner.

O’Connell was again left in disbelief, this time at the Vikings landing a prospect ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. considered the top pass rusher in the class.

Tuner was noticeably emotional after the pick came in.

“I was definitely a little anxious to get picked up a little bit,” Turner said of his extended wait on draft night. “But everything falls in place. I’m a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason.

“I started crying, I’m gonna be honest. As soon as I seen the ‘Minnesota’ on my phone come across the screen, it was just a, ‘Wow, you going to a very good organization.’ Because on my visit, [I] met with Coach O’Connell, met with Kwesi. I had a real good feel for the people in this building, people in Minnesota. So I’m ready to get to work.”

Turner recorded 22.5 sacks in three seasons at Alabama, including a career-best 10.0 this past season.

Dallas Turner Pick Put Smile on Brian Flores’ Face

Brian Flores, Minnesota Vikings

GettyDefensive coordinator Brian Flores of the Minnesota Vikings.

If there was one person who was nearly as happy as Turner and those in his circle, it was Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores.

He also said that he received plenty of messages about the pick.

“I’m not a big smile guy, but I’ve been smiling these last 24 hours,” Flores said. “He was high on our draft board, and I’m sure high on a lot of draft boards considering the amount of text messages I got after we got him.”

The Vikings lost Danielle Hunter (Houston Texans), D.J. Wonnum (Carolina Panthers), and Marcus Davenport (Detroit Lions) to free agency.

That is 26.5 sacks out the door, 16.5 of which belonged to Hunter.

The Vikings added former Texan Jonathan Greenard and versatile Ex-Miami Dolphin Andrew Van Ginkel. But Turner has a chance to bring a dynamic element to the pass rush they might not have otherwise had.