Adam New’s Vikings Mock Draft 2.0
Approaching the final countdown toward this year’s NFL draft, it is time for a final Vikings mock draft. After months of watching clips and reading up on draft prospects. I’m putting all the information I have gathered into what I think the Vikings front office might do in this year’s draft.
In my previous Vikings mock draft, I used The Draft Network simulator. This time I am changing it up and using Pro Football Focus, and unlike before, I am making trades. Two of them, to be precise, and the Vikings end up with nine selections in this draft. So let’s get this show on the road with the first trade.
Los Angeles Chargers receive: pick 12, pick 192
Minnesota Vikings receive: pick 17, pick 79, 2023 3rd
With Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley, Kyle Hamilton, and even Trent McDuffie off the board — as well as my pick from the first mock, Jermaine Johnson, all off the board — I trade back. It doesn’t appear to be a great year for trading back. We will see if that holds true on Thursday, but I’m not inundated with offers for the 12th overall pick. The Los Angeles Chargers are willing to come up to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. Many people would want to take Williams here, but I’m happy to go back five places while gaining the extra third-round pick this year and next year, believing I will get the player I want at 17.
1st round, pick 17
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Thankfully, I do. The Vikings need a long-term starting cornerback, and Andrew Booth Jr. is that guy. He will have an excellent mentor in Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler, another young player to compete with — then if all goes well, play with, once Peterson has left. Booth brings an exciting blend of size, athleticism, instincts, physicality, ball skills, and competitive toughness. Booth can match up with anybody on the outside while also having the speed and run tackling ability to play in the slot if required early in his career.
Pittsburgh Steelers receive: pick 46
Minnesota Vikings receive: pick 52, pick 138
I’m channeling my inner Rick Spielman with another trade back. The way the board fell, there was no one I desperately wanted at 46 that I thought I couldn’t still get going back a few places. I also wanted to get back in the fourth round to select a tight end. The Steelers kindly obliged.
2nd round, pick 52
Josh Pascal, Edge, Kentucky
The buzzword on the Vikings defense is versatility, and Josh Pascal gives you that. You can move him around the defensive line, and he can do a job for you, whether that’s in a 3-4 or 4-3 front or any other exotic way defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell, might want to set up his defense. Strong against the run with powerful hands and decent as a pass rusher, it’s his ability to move around a defense and be effective that makes me think that this is a good fit for the Vikings.
Minnesota Vikings receive: pick 54, pick 127
New England Patriots receive: pick 77, pick 79
Now is the time to get aggressive and come up and take a second player in the second round. The reason? To transform the depth chart at the cornerback position.
2nd round, pick 54
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Adding Roger McCreary and Andrew Booth changes the landscape of the Vikings cornerback room.
You can never be 100% sure that rookies will work out, but these are two young studs with plenty of potential. Like Booth, McCreary can play inside and out and has all the attributes needed to develop into a very good starting cornerback. Veteran leader Patrick Peterson would have a plethora of young talent to mentor, including new signing Chandon Sullivan, who is only 25.
McCreary was my second-round selection at pick 46 in my first Vikings mock draft. One of only two players to appear in both drafts.
4th round, pick 127
JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
That word versatility again. JoJo Domann is a modern-day coverage linebacker who will thrive in the passing game. He has experience playing as a safety and in the slot, and PFF gave him a coverage grade of 87.8 in 2021. Domann is one of the older players in this year’s draft, turning 25 before the season starts. However, his skill set and ability to be a linebacker who can drop into the slot make him a great fit for the Vikings, and he’s ready to contribute.
4th round, pick 138
Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Maryland
When I traded this pick with the Steelers, I had tight end in mind, and my first choice was Chigoziem Okonkwo. So things have worked out nicely here. I picked him out as my favorite option for the Vikings when I wrote about tight ends the Vikings should look at in the draft. It’s not that he’s necessarily the best tight end in the draft. It’s more that he offers something the Vikings offense doesn’t currently have — a big physical pass catcher that will prowl the middle of the field. He would be a good foil for Irv Smith.
5th round, pick 156
John Ridgeway, IDL, Arkansas
Ed Donatell’s defense requires a dominant 0-tech/nose tackle and a dominant defensive tackle next to him. Harrison Phillips has been signed to play alongside Dalvin Tomlinson. Behind those two, there isn’t a prominent player waiting in reserve who can come in and take on double teams.
John Ridgeway is that guy, and he’s ready to start in the NFL. So, having him as a depth piece gives the Vikings defensive line incredible strength in depth. When the Vikings are ready to move on from Dalvin Tomlinson, be that this year or next, to make cap savings, or when his contract runs out at the end of the 2023 season, Ridgeway will be more than ready to step in if he hasn’t won the job by merit already.
Ridgeway played against the best college football has to offer in the SEC last season and was dominant with his natural strength and heavy hands. His low stance gives him great leverage and makes him particularly difficult for offensive linemen to move, even with double teams.
6th round, pick 186
Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin
I know this is a defense-heavy draft, and I’m going linebacker again here, but unless you are going for the potential star wide receiver in rounds one or two. I’m not seeing anything in the draft that improves our offense other than the tight end I selected.
Jack Sanborn formed a fierce partnership with Leo Chenal in Wisconsin, and while Chenal is the more coveted of the two, Sanborn is a good player in his own right as a downhill tackler. His coverage skills are only modest, but he would provide competition for a depth role at the linebacker position, especially in an early-down and run situation role.
6th round, pick
Leon O’Neal Jr, S, Texas A&M
The second player to make both of my Vikings mock drafts is Leon O’Neal Jr. As I said before, it’s special team’s value and the ability to add strength to the defense in the run game that appeals to me here. With the potential to develop his game further, you can’t go wrong with O’Neal in the 6th round.
7th round, pick 250
Ryan Van Denmark, T, Connecticut
The choice here was another flyer on a running back like my first Vikings mock draft — or some competition for Blake Brandel at the backup tackle role. With a player named Ryan Van Denmark on the board, how can you pass that up for the Vikings?
Seriously though, the Vikings are set at tackle for their two starters, but some depth is required with Brandel and Oli Udoh the backup options. Van Denmark has good length but lacks strength. He needs time to bulk up and add strength. If he can do that, he has the potential to be a swing tackle.