5 Alternative 1st-Round Pick Candidates for Vikings

Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

We are less than two weeks away from the 2022 National Football League Draft, and I will offer five alternative Vikings first-round pick candidates.

This year the draft comes to us from the bright lights of Las Vegas. Starting on Thursday, April 28, the three-day affair begins with the first round. There is a general feeling of who the Vikings might be looking at with the 12th overall pick. Of course, this depends on who gets selected with the first 11 picks while assuming the Vikings aren’t going to be aggressive and trade up. 

Specific names have been mentioned repeatedly, like Sauce Gardner, who now seems to be out of the Vikings reach. More recently, it’s Derek Stingley, Jordan Davis, and Trent McDuffiem, and the suggestion of Kyle Hamilton slipping down the board to number 12 has cropped up. I do think there are other options out there, especially if the Vikings trade back from 12, which wouldn’t surprise me at all. 

Here are my five alternative Vikings first-round pick candidates.

Andrew Booth Jnr, CB, Clemson

Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) during practice at the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson in Clemson, S.C. Friday, December 17, 2021. Clemson Football Practice Dec 17 Friday

It wasn’t long ago that Andrew Booth would feature as high as in the top 5 on draft boards. His slide down to the bottom half of most boards has been dramatic and, to me, somewhat puzzling.

A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Booth didn’t disappoint during his time at Clemson. He has everything a cornerback needs to be an impact starter in the National Football League, offering an exciting blend of size, athleticism, instincts, physicality, ball skills, and competitive toughness. He will be a starting outside corner who can match up with anybody while also having the speed and run tackling ability to play in the slot if required.

Areas that he needs to improve for the step up to the next level are his tackling. He is an aggressive and dynamic tackler, but over-enthusiasm can sometimes lead to missed tackles. Coaching should be able to iron that out. He can also improve in zone coverage when it comes to working in his zone and knowing when to pass players off. Again, coaching and development can bring that on, and he would become the complete cornerback.

This is why it puzzles me why people are so low on him. If the Vikings draft Andrew Booth, they will be drafting a top cornerback prospect.

Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia

The Vikings need some interior pass rush. Find a guy who can do it to a high level and team them up with Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, along with the big bodies of Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips and the Vikings defense starts to look formidable.

Jordan Davis is the favorite name in the mock drafts after his impressive combine. However, his teammate in Georgia, Devonte Wyatt, is also a top 20 draft prospect who had an impressive combine of his own. He is arguably more suited to what the Vikings are looking for.

He is a disruptive interior pass rusher who displays speed and burst to penetrate gaps. Wyatt has excellent lateral movement and good hands that allow him to win on the edges and up the middle. He is a good run defender who struggles with double teams, but with Tomlinson and Phillips around, that shouldn’t be a big issue. This is another case of if the Vikings trade back a few places. They can still get a top player at a position of need while adding to their draft capital.

Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

Nov 20, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles offensive lineman Zion Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have bolstered their roster with serviceable options at guard. What they don’t have is a top-level player on the interior of the offensive line. I would still like that to change, and Zion Johnson could be that guy.

A perfect fit for a wide zone offense Johnson brings to the table a player with great technique. Especially when it comes to anchoring, which has been a major issue on the interior of the Vikings offensive line, his technique, along with his size and physicality, means he can be ready to go in Week 1. 

He has played both tackle and guard, but the consensus for him in the NFL is guard. As well as having a solid anchor and thriving in pass protection, he has excellent lateral mobility — a must for the wide zone offense the Vikings will be running. The potential is there for Johnson to quickly become the Vikings best player on the interior if they draft him.

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

There is a view from some that the Vikings need another elite wide receiver — a successor to Adam Thielen. While I think he has at least another couple of years in him, the injuries have been mounting up. KJ Osborn had a breakout season in 2021, and I believe Ihmir Smith-Marsette has a bright future as a deep threat option.

If I’m adding another wide receiver to this group, I’m looking for a specific skill set. I want a versatile, big, physical receiver who can dominate the middle of the field and win contested catches. I give you Treylon Burks.

Standing at 6’2 and 225 lbs, Burks gives the Vikings offense something it has been looking for, for a long time. Think Cordarelle Patterson. Burks can lineup out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield. Get the ball in his hands, and he is a tough tackle for defenders, using his big frame to shield defenders and power through arm tackles and is rarely brought down by the first defender.

Burke has a natural ability to go up and over defenders to win 50/50 balls. Adding his skillset would mean the Vikings offense has everything you could want from its playmakers.

Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

One area the Vikings are short on in terms of depth is safety. After Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum, there isn’t much else. I think it is a position that will be addressed in the draft. Should Kyle Hamilton fall to 12, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may well pull the trigger.

If not, and the Vikings decide to trade back, there are other good options. The top of the list for me is Lewis Cine

A versatile defender who can fit into any scheme and perform several roles, Cine is a good athlete with good straight-line speed, agility, and range of motion. His physicality shows up in the run game, where he comes downhill with authority and hits hard. His athleticism can be used in blitz packages, where he can affect the quarterback. Competition for Camryn Bynum and a potential successor to Harrison Smith should be something on the Vikings radar. Cine fits the bill.