Vikings Defensive Draft Picks in Last 5 Years Have Been Unremarkable

Aug 18, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Devante Downs. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings are overdue for defensive production from the NFL draft as the personnel extracted from 2016 to 2021 has been largely unremarkable.

The 2015 NFL Draft was a wondrous event for the Vikings — on offense and defense — netting the franchise Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and Stefon Diggs. But it was as if that haul was orchestrated via deal with the devil because the defensive draftees since have been underwhelming.

Of course, the players selected in 2021 and 2022 are absolved of fault for now as they have time mature. But on the whole, since 2016, it isn’t pretty. These are the defensive players by the Vikings from 2016 to 2021 who have played in 30+ games, in alphabetical order:

  • Mackensie Alexander (CB)
  • Kris Boyd (CB)
  • Kentrell Brothers (LB)
  • Devante Downs (LB)
  • Marcus Epps (S)
  • Ben Gedeon (LB)
  • Jayln Holmes (DE)
  • Mike Hughes (CB)
  • Jaleel Johnson (DT)
  • Jayron Kearse (S)
  • Elijah Lee (LB)
  • Josh Metellus (S)
  • Ifeadi Odenidbo (DE)
  • Armon Watts (DT)
  • Stephen Weatherly (DE)
  • D.J. Wonnum (EDGE)
Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Other players not quite to 30 games-played may not provide doom and gloom — Cameron Dantzler, Camryn Bynum, Patrick Jones II, Janarius Robinson, and James Lynch. But the verdict is still out those developing players.

Thankfully for the Vikings sake, all of these draftees were courtesy of a different general manager, Rick Spielman, who was terminated in January. It doesn’t have to be “this way” anymore. Minnesota hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to replace Spielman, and the first-year executive used the 2022 NFL Draft to draft five defenders with his first six picks. He’s trying to right wrongs.

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Among the candidates to change the narrative are Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, and Brian Asamoah — all men selected in April with 3rd-Round-or-higher draft capital. Cine will probably start at free safety in September, Booth has an outside chance to dethrone Danzlter or Peterson at cornerback, and Asamoah is the next man up if something happens to Eric Kendricks or Jordan Hicks.

Minnesota’s defense was fierce from 2014 to 2019 but encountered mediocrity and collapses in crucial situations amid the last two seasons. Examining recent draft history can explain, in part, where the cliff-dive began.

Vikings defensive players drafted from 2010 to 2015 have journeyed to 20 collective Pro Bowls. Vikings defensive players drafted from 2016 to 2021 have journeyed to zero Pro Bowls.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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