A New Face Enters Vikings Mock Draft Realm

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Through 2.5 weeks of free agency, the 2023 Minnesota Vikings have roster needs at cornerback, wide receiver, off-ball linebacker, and arguably interior defensive line.

The team could select a wide receiver to get richer next to Justin Jefferson after Adam Thielen’s hop, skip, and jump to the Carolina Panthers. Or — it can improve the NFL’s second-worst defense per yards allowed in 2022.

A New Face Enters Vikings Mock Draft Realm

And if it’s defense indeed, CBS Sports has a new defender on the agenda for Minnesota, a man not usually spitballed to the Vikings with their 23rd overall pick — EDGE Keion White from Georgia Tech.

A New Face Enters
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Some would consider White a “reach” at No. 23 but don’t tell that to CBS Sports’ Will Brinson. In his latest mock draft, he plopped White on the Vikings and explained, “Defense has to be a priority in this draft for the Vikings and adding some youth up front would make a ton of sense. A CB would be fine here too.”

And the “CB would be fine here too” is probably a more likely option for the CB-needy Vikings, who only employ Byron Murphy, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans as possibly startable corners as of March 28th.

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Still, if Minnesota does not want a cornerback in Round 1 and isn’t impressed by the other pass rushers, White could theoretically be the guy.

The Vikings employ a litany of EDGE rushers in late March, but the question is how long will Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, and Marcus Davenport be on the roster? These are the Vikings outside linebackers at the moment:

  • OLB1: Danielle Hunter
  • OLB2: Marcus Davenport
  • OLB3: Za’Darius Smith
  • OLB4: D.J. Wonnum
  • OLB5: Patrick Jones
  • OLB6: Luiji Vilain
  • OLB7: Kenny Willekes
  • OLB8: Benton Whitley
  • OLB9: Curtis Weaver

That group is plentiful and trustable for Week 1 — especially if Smith reverses his goodbye tweet from three weeks ago — so White would evidently be a plan for life after Hunter and Davenport.

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The Draft Network described White, “As an overall prospect, White brings an outstanding combination of physical size and athleticism. White is scheme versatile too — you can move him all over the defensive front line. As far as run defense is concerned, I believe you will get the best out of White by placing him on the edges — outside shade of offensive tackles and versus tight ends.”

But TDN cautioned about the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder, “White does not consistently use proper punch timing to strike blockers first and disrupt leveraging/balance. Due to the late hands, he allows blockers to gain initial contact, putting him behind the eight ball.”

Monitor Za’Darius Smith’s status with the team. If he returns, the Vikings emphatically don’t need an EDGE rusher in Round 1. If he is traded, though — a real possibility — a pass rusher right away for the Vikings in the draft isn’t lunacy.

The Vikings haven’t drafted a defensive end or outside linebacker in Rounds 1 or 2 of the draft since 2005. Anthony Barr was supposed to fix that nine years ago, but Minnesota never really used him as an EDGE.

The NFL Draft is 29 days away.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.