10 Prospects the Vikings Could Pick in the First Round of the 2023 NFL Draft

10 Prospects the Vikings Could Select in the First Round of the 2023 NFL Draft
Oct 1, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

There are officially 10 days left until the 2023 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday, April 27th. With the draft quickly approaching, today we’ve formed a list of 10 prospects the Vikings could realistically draft in the first round when the event gets underway.

Honorable Mentions

10 Prospects
Sep 3, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) runs on the sideline after taking a hard hit during the NCAA football game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports.

Before we get into the 10, here are a list of prospects that the Vikings likely would take if they were available, but the chances of them falling all the way down to No. 23 (or that they would choose to trade up to select them) simply don’t seem very high:

  • CB Christian Gonzalez
  • CB Joey Porter Jr.
  • CB Devon Witherspoon
  • DT Jalen Carter
  • QB Anthony Richardson
  • QB Will Levis
  • WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

CB Deonte Banks

Another Pundit Piles
Nov 5, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) reacts following a play during the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Deonte Banks is a complete prospect at the cornerback position. He is physical at the line of scrimmage and has the speed to keep up with some of the faster wide receivers in the league. A couple injuries throughout his football career could have teams worried about his durability, but his 2022 season went on without a hitch.

CB Emmanuel Forbes

Mel Kiper Has Defense
Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Emmanuel Forbes (13) warms up before a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports.

The biggest knock on Emmanuel Forbes is going to be his size at just 166 pounds. That being said, he plays extremely tough ball, and he has some elite ball skills, recording 6 interceptions in 2022. This type of playmaking along with his great length could be very valuable in a Vikings defense.

DT Calijah Kancey

Moves off Will Levis
Sep 10, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Calijah Kancey (8) reacts after recording a sack against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Tennessee won 34-27 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

A sneaky need for the Vikings in this upcoming draft is at defensive tackle after the departure of Dalvin Tomlinson, so perhaps Minnesota would opt to fill that need right away with a potential ‘best player available’ pick. If the Vikings go in this direction, Calijah Kancey brings a lot of upside with his pass-rushing prowess from the middle of a defensive line.

LB Drew Sanders

Sep 10, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders (42) pursues South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) during the second half at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 44-30. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports.

Of the linebackers in this class, Drew Sanders out of Arkansas may have the highest upside. After playing as an EDGE for most of his early collegiate career, he transferred to Arkansas in 2022 and switched to off-ball linebacker and immediately began filling box scores. The Vikings probably would need to trade back in order to justify taking him this early, but it can’t be ruled out.

LB Trenton Simpson

Dec 3, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Nate Wiggins (20) celebrates with linebacker Trenton Simpson (22) after breaking up a pass during the second quarter of the ACC Championship game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Like Sanders, Trenton Simpson probably has to be acquired as part of a trade down the board. However, he is the most complete linebacker prospect in the class right now, and the Vikings are an injury away from being in a dire spot at the position. Depending on how Minnesota feels about their CBs and WRs, this could be a solid pick for Minnesota.

QB Hendon Hooker

Drops Mock Draft
Dec 30, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) looks on before the 2022 Orange Bowl against the Clemson Tigers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Like so many of the QBs in this draft class, the Vikings would be banking on the upside of Hendon Hooker amidst some red flags if they opt to take him in the first round. These positives include ideal NFL size (unlike many of the QBs behind him in this draft), some solid mobility when healthy, and continuously improving accuracy.

S Brian Branch

Alabama Defender One
Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Brian Branch (14) celebrates his interception against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Branch might be listed as a safety, but that isn’t what his potential is limited to. In 2022, he played about 70% of his snaps at slot corner, and with Minnesota still needing a starter at that spot, he could immediately jump into the lineup there while adding depth at safety.

WR Jordan Addison

Predicts Vikings 1st
Oct 1, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) runs away from Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back D.J. Taylor (3) for a first down in the first half at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Jordan Addison is a very smooth route-runner, and seeing as he plays primarily out of the slot, he would fit seamlessly into the Vikings next to Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn. Despite some size concerns, he has an arsenal of ways to get open and should find success at the NFL level.

WR Zay Flowers

Purple Rumor Mill: A WR in McShay's Mock Draft, Irv Smith's Return, Duke Shelley
Nov 26, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports.

Zay Flowers may only be 5’9, but he is an extremely sturdy receiver and another elite route-runner. His speed and acceleration also allow him to pick up yards after the catch in a heartbeat. His size may not ever allow him to be a WR1 in the NFL, but that’s not what the Vikings need him to be.

WR Quentin Johnston

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Quentin Johnston has the highest ceiling of any receiver in this class. He has outstanding size as a wide receiver, and he combines that with explosive athleticism that make him a mismatch nightmare. Despite his size, he had some trouble in contested catch situations at TCU, but some further development could eliminate those concerns.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.