Vikings

Three Directions the Vikings Could Go At Pick 23

Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again! The NFL season is over, and the countdown to the draft is officially underway. Last year, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah showed that he is more than willing to move around during the draft, trading up and down multiple times.

This year, the draft could look very different, though. The Minnesota Vikings currently only hold four selections, a first-, a third-, a fourth-, and a fifth-rounder. They are also projected to receive a fifth-round compensatory pick for the loss of Tyler Conklin.

Of course, this lack of picks is mainly due to the T.J. Hockenson trade, which has already benefited the Vikings. But this shortage of selections makes it critical that the front office gets the 23rd-overall pick right. Because if they do, Minnesota’s championship window could be wide open.

Here are three primary strategies they could take with their first-round pick.

Drafting First-Round Corner For Brian Flores

It’s no secret that Minnesota’s cornerback room was unreliable last year. Rookies Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans had trouble staying healthy, and Cameron Dantzler was only active for 10 games.

By the end of the season, the Vikings were starting a 32-year-old Patrick Peterson alongsideĀ Duke Shelley, who the 3-14 Chicago Bears cut. Despite this, both players had solid seasons and ultimately were not the reason the New York Giants eliminated the Vikings. But the problem is they are both now free agents and may command more money than the cash-strapped Vikings are willing to give.

The good news is that both Booth and Evans will be healthy and ready to go for 2023. While we haven’t seen much from either of them in purple and yellow, they both have loads of potential. Despite that, in an aggressive defensive scheme like the one Flores intends to bring to Minnesota, the ability of a corner to go one-on-one and hold their own with a receiver is crucial.

Therefore, if Flores sees a corner he likes, and the player is available at pick No. 23, then very little could get in the way of that player being drafted. With question marks all over the cornerback room, an outside cornerback feels like the sensible selection. There is plenty of talent at the position in the draft this year, and with the aggressive defensive style that Flores plays, he may want to handpick his corner.

Drafting A First-Round Wide Receiver

You may ask yourself, Why would the Vikings need another receiving option? They already have Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn.

The answer is that teams are still doubling Justin Jefferson far too much. In the playoffs, the Giants bracketed Jefferson with a corner and a safety practically all game and held him to 47 yards.

Admittedly, this allowed Hockenson to feast for 129 yards and a touchdown. However, when the season was on the line, Thielen and Osborn were both in one-on-one situations all game and could not get open.

If the Vikings were to add another first-round talent at wide receiver, it would stretch defenses incredibly thin. Think about the Cincinnati Bengals and their wide receiver room that consists of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. There is so much talent that defenses can’t double Chase and must leave all three receivers in one-on-one situations.

If Jefferson is talented enough to put up 1,800-plus yards while being double-teamed, imagine what he would accomplish against man-to-man. In addition, this draft has multiple late first-round wide receiver talents that could instantly come in and make an impact. Names such as Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Zay Flowers would unlock an already lethal offense.

Trading Back To Recoup Picks

As mentioned before, the Vikings currently only have four selections in the draft. This lack of picks could easily persuade Kwesi, who was actively trading in last year’s draft, to move back on Day 1.

The NFL draft is hit or miss, and finding a player who will be an important piece moving forward becomes much more challenging if you only have four picks. Because of that, if Adofo-Mensah were to trade out of this first round and recoup a second-round pick and a third-round pick, that could be more beneficial than taking just one player at pick 23.

Additionally, in the franchise history of the Vikings, the team has never had less than five total selections in the draft, so I find it hard to believe that streak will end this April.

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Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

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