Vikings

2024 Vikings Mock Draft Tracker Vol. 1

Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine getting underway in Indianapolis and the new league year begins in two weeks heralds the arrival of a special time of the year for a certain type of sports fanatic: That’s right, it’s mock draft season! And with Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter set to hit free agency, the Minnesota Vikings become one of the harder teams for draftniks to predict.

We are still likely too far out to have any solid evidence for any pick, but it’s fun to take a look at what these draft gurus expect the Vikings to do in the first round.

Below are the predictions from some of the most well-reputed draft analysts.

Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN+)

Jared Verse, DE, FSU

I almost went corner here — Terrion Arnold (Alabama), Cooper DeJean (Iowa), and Nate Wiggins (Clemson) are my top three — but I wonder whether this instead could be the spot for an edge rusher. If Danielle Hunter leaves in free agency, Minnesota would have a massive void to fill.

Verse could be an asset on all three downs. He had 18 sacks over two seasons at FSU, where he also developed into a solid run defender. He was inconsistent at times, but he has some savvy as a pass-rusher. I’m really curious to see how he tests in the on-field drills at the combine.

Kiper seems set on the Vikings bulking up their defense with this pick. He has them taking one of the better edge rushers to replace Hunter, who Kiper assumes will leave in free agency. Given that he has the Vikings passing up J.J. McCarthy, who the Denver Broncos take one pick later, it’s safe to assume Kiper also expects Minnesota to bring back Kirk Cousins.

Verse is one of the best edge rushers in the country. He will likely make a significant impact in his rookie year. And with Hunter, Davenport, and Wonnum potentially leaving this year in free agency, Verse fills an immediate Day 1 need and seems to be a “win-now” pick.

Daniel Jeremiah 2.0 (NFL.com)

Dallas Turner, DE, Alabama

I wouldn’t rule out the Vikings drafting a quarterback early, but I’m not sure they’ll have the ammunition to trade up for one. With Danielle Hunter heading for free agency, they address the need for pass-rush help.

Jeremiah is another analyst who predicts a move for Hunter, which accounts for the Vikings selecting Dallas Turner, another promising edge rusher. Turner looks like another player in the line of great defenders from Nick Saban and the Tide. Some experts have argued that he would be the safest defensive player to select in the draft.

Jeremiah also considers the Vikings potentially moving up to grab a quarterback of the future. However, he decided against it because he has four quarterbacks selected in the top eight picks. In this mock draft, Turner would be the first defensive player selected in the class.

Scott Dotcherman (The Athletic)

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Minnesota could go one of two directions with this slot. The Vikings could take Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and undertake an awkward or wholesale rebuild, depending on what happens with Kirk Cousins. Or they could snag the most versatile defender in Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean, who would immediately elevate Minnesota’s secondary and punt-return game.

After what happened last year when Cousins was injured, it’s time for the Vikings to start succession planning (provided they re-sign Cousins). McCarthy was critical in elevating Michigan to the national title and has the right mix of talent, arm strength, and swagger to become the long-term answer in Minnesota. Give him two years, and he may be on the cusp of a Pro Bowl.

Dotcherman is among a group of The Athletic’s college football writers who are the first group to go in a different direction with the Vikings pick, believing that they will look to address the quarterback position with Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. He believes that even if the Vikings re-sign Cousins, they would be smart to plan for the future with McCarthy waiting in the wings and looking to take over whenever Kirk’s time in Minnesota ends.

Dotcherman also seems to have a high opinion of Michigan’s signal caller, saying that he may be Pro Bowl-bound sooner than later. Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah talk about age, accuracy, and arm strength being things they look for when evaluating a quarterback. McCarthy meets their criteria on all three fronts.

Chris Trapasso (CBS)

Trade up to Pick No. 3 for Drake Maye, QB, UNC

New Vikings quarterback coach Josh McCown was Maye’s high school coach in the Charlotte area just five years ago. The Vikings need to finally swing for the fences at quarterback, and do so.

In his simulated offseason, Trapasso has Cousins signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Vikings opting out on the other veteran playcallers rumored to be on the market. Instead, he has the Vikings swinging big and trading up to select one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft class in UNC’s Drake Maye.

Given all the assets they would have to surrender, it would be hard for the Vikings to get into the top three. But it’s important to remember that they nearly made a similar move for Anthony Richardson last year with the Arizona Cardinals, allegedly offering three first-round picks to move up from pick No. 23 to No. 3. With Adofo-Mensah being in the third year of a four-year contract, it would potentially make sense for him to swing big and try to find the quarterback for the next decade-plus and further cement his job security.

Chad Rueter (NFL.com)

Dallas Turner, DE, Alabama

Assuming Kirk Cousins re-signs with the Vikings, the team takes Turner to replenish its soon-to-be depleted pass-rush depth. Minnesota makes its move for a quarterback in Round 2, trading fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-round picks to Carolina to swap second-round picks and grab Oregon’s Bo Nix as Cousins’ successor.

Another analyst who has Turner going to the Vikings. Rueter believes the Vikings will find common ground with Cousins and bring him back for next season and potentially longer. However, it appears he’s less optimistic about Hunter. He has Minnesota bringing in Turner as a long-term replacement for some of the production they lose from Hunter.

Rueter also has the Vikings establishing a succession plan post-Kirk with Bo Nix early in the second round. In his mock, Reuter gives Vikings fans a player who can make an immediate impact and one for the future, balancing out what the team wants and needs.

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Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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