The Vikings Have Oodles of Needs in Next Year’s Draft
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The Vikings Have Oodles of Needs in Next Year’s Draft

The Vikings clinched their playoff spot on Saturday after winning the NFC North for the first time since 2017. Hiring head coach Kevin O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah were the moves the organization needed. They preached collaboration in their first draft in charge, so it’s fair to criticize or praise them both for their first draft class.

Almost a full season into their careers, the rookies didn’t live up to expectations, especially high draft picks Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth, who were supposed to upgrade a struggling secondary unit. They are both on injured reserve.

The Vikings Have Oodles of Needs in Next Year's Draft
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However, despite not having a successful rookie campaign, it’s way too early for a final evaluation, as some players take time to develop, but it’s never too early to think about the next draft. The roster will have some holes and spots to fill, and the Vikings must do that in the draft and free agency.

Adofo-Mensah is unlikely to have a lot of cap space available to make splashy moves in free agency, so the draft has to bring out some contributors. A difference to recent years is that the Vikings are not locked on a single position, and their first-round pick could go in multiple different directions.

The Vikings Have Oodles of Needs in Next Year’s Draft


Cornerback has been a problem since Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes left in the 2020 offseason. In the last three campaigns, the Vikings had to start many inexperienced players like rookies Cam Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, Jeff Gladney, and Andrew Booth. They paired them with some underwhelming veterans — Bashaud Breeland comes to mind.

Patrick Peterson has played a fantastic 2022 season and does not look like a 32-year-old. Opposite of him, the other cornerback spot has been a mess.

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Cameron Dantzler had good and bad games and then had to spend some time on injured reserve. His replacements Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, and Duke Shelley showed some potential but are far from becoming reliable cornerback options. It would not be shocking to see the Vikings using another first-rounder to fix the coverage problems.

Wide Receiver

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Justin Jefferson is one of the elite players in the NFL. Adam Thielen is declining and lost a few steps. And K.J. Osborn is a streaky player with huge games like his 157-yard explosion in the comeback win over the Colts, but he was held under ten receiving yards in four games in 2022.

Seeing Jalen Reagor or Jalen Nailor becoming electric playmakers is a stretch at this point. The Vikings definitely need to add a receiver. Even a first-rounder is a real possibility, especially considering the approach of Kevin O’Connell to have at least three wideouts on the field on most plays.

Offensive Line

Drafting offensive linemen early in drafts has been an every-year thing for the Vikings. The two offensive tackle positions are set with Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw. Rookie guard Ed Ingram had some lousy performances, but he’s slowly improving, and a second-year jump is likely. The Vikings should not try to replace him. Ingram’s counterpart, Ezra Cleveland, is one of the league’s better guards, even with occasional stinkers.

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The center position is a question mark because Garrett Bradbury is in a contract year. His departure in free agency is possible because teams are desperate to find capable offensive linemen. Centers shouldn’t be drafted in the first round — the sweet spot is the third round.

Defensive Tackle

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Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson are good football players. Tomlinson is like Bradbury in a contract year, but he’s likely coming back because re-signing him could actually lower his cap hit because of a void year in his current contract. One thing both guys lack is pass-rushing ability, as they are run-stuffers first.

Adding someone that can provide a consistent pass rush from the inside could make a big difference, especially on third and long, where the Vikings struggle in 2022. These players are hard to find at the end of the first round where the Vikings will draft, but the position with that skillset is a need.


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The Vikings have a good starting quarterback. A lot of teams would be happy to have Kirk Cousins. However, he is 34 years old, and the franchise must consider the future. Alex Smith played excellent football when the Chiefs selected his successor. You might know the guy.

If the decision-makers, especially O’Connell, fall in love with a passer in the class, GM Adofo-Mensah should try to bring him in. Drafting a quarterback before it becomes a need is a great position to be in.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt