The 3 Best-Case Scenarios for Vikings in Round 1 of Draft
The NFL Draft is quickly approaching this week, with the Vikings slotted to make the 12th overall selection on Thursday night. In what’s shaping up to be one of the most intriguing drafts in recent memory, it seems as if analysts across the board disagree on how the first round will pan out.
That’s no different in Minnesota, as the Vikings have had various players mocked to them in recent weeks. However, there are still clear areas of need for the roster, so it’s really going to depend on how the board falls.
Here are three possible outcomes that would be labeled as a win in round one for new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah:
A Top-Tier Pass Rusher Falls to 12
This offseason, the Vikings figured out the Danielle Hunter situation and signed Za’Darius Smith in free agency. While these two could indeed be the top pass-rushing duo in the league, it doesn’t negate depth and legit injury concerns at the position.
The good news for the Vikings is this year’s draft class is deep at the position. It wouldn’t surprise me if the first three picks were all pass rushers, but the uncertainty revolves heavily around this position.
Some mock drafts have Oregon Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux falling out of the Top 10. If that is the case, the Vikings should be willing to pounce on his elite skill set.
In three seasons with Oregon, Thibodeaux totaled 126 tackles, 19 sacks, and three forced fumbles. He plays the game with great athleticism and has a deathly first step in getting after opposing quarterbacks.
He’d be utilized early in his career on pass-rushing downs while learning behind two of the top pass rushers in the NFL. The 3-4 scheme change could also benefit him, as he’s played as a true OLB in Oregon’s defense.
This seems like one of the least likely outcomes for the Vikings at 12, but if it happens, it should be a no-brainer pick.
Derek Stingley Jr. Is Still Available at 12
Possibly the most mocked player to Minnesota, Derek Stingley Jr. also seems to be one of the most polarizing players in this entire class. Some analysts have him slated in the top five picks, while others say he shouldn’t be picked in the top 15.
One sure thing is the value of Stingley perfectly aligns with the Vikings most significant need ahead of the 2022 season. Although the team brought in Chandon Sullivan and re-signed Patrick Peterson, cornerback is still a colossal roster need.
Stingley could have the highest ceiling in this class, but the lack of solid film over the last two seasons is worrisome. Daronte Jones, the Vikings defensive backs coach, was Stingley’s defensive coordinator at LSU. That connection alone could help the Vikings new regime feel more comfortable taking a chance on Stingley, who could be mentored by former LSU superstar Patrick Peterson.
The health of Stingley was also a concern before his Pro Day, but he eased those worries with a 4.37 40-yard dash.
It’s not often that the best player available aligns perfectly with the Vikings biggest need, but that will be the case if Stingley falls to them at 12.
The Vikings Find a Trade Partner for More Draft Capital
Trading back in the first round seems like the least sexy option, but forcing a pick when the top players are gone would be a mistake. Players like Jermaine Johnson, George Karlaftis, and Trent McDuffie could be in play at 12, but I’d prefer trading back and seeing if any names fall deeper than expected.
Draft capital will be huge over the next two years for the new regime, so getting additional resources seems like the right play. That could mean loading up on day two picks this year or trying to get a first-round pick in the 2023 draft, which has been labeled as a much better QB class.
Here’s an article that I wrote going over my top five options for the Vikings if they do indeed trade back on Thursday night.
With the amount of uncertainty still circulating about the talent in this class, Vikings fans should buckle up for any scenario possible. These are the three most ideal situations, but there are still several other options as we sit just over 48 hours away from the Jaguars being on the clock.
Jack Day is a Senior Writer for VikingsTerritory. He has spent time writing for KFAN.com, Vikings Wire, and working for the Vikings. He also co-hosts the original Vikings Territory podcast @LTBVikings. You can follow him on Twitter @Jack_H_Day.