The 3 For-Sure-Good Draft Prospects Available to Vikings

Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Brian Branch (14) against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings will step up to the plate as the 23rd in line Thursday night — if they don’t trade up or down.

Five draft picks are on the docket, and many believe general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will add more capital through trades. He did so last year and probably thinks the strategy worked out swimmingly.

The 3 For-Sure-Good Draft Prospects Available to Vikings

And whether he stays put at No. 23 or moves down a trade, he’ll have a few close-to-locks with three players.

Note: Texas RB Bijan Robinson was almost included on this list, but he likely won’t make it past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19th pick.

1. Brian Branch (S/CB)

Alabama

Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Brian Branch (14) against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Branch attended one of the finest football schools in the country, tackles with precision, and is just supremely polished. He’s also versatile, heightening his chances of succeeding in the NFL. He doesn’t have ginormous red flags entering the draft, as some prospects do with injury, age, or otherwise.

The Alabama alumnus is also 21 years old and ready to be inserted into an NFL defense. His football IQ is quite commendable, and his only real weakness is man coverage, which is essentially a cornerback’s job. Branch is a safety at heart.

There’s one reason Branch isn’t a Top 10 commodity — his position. Safeties aren’t considered premium assets, so Branch suffers a bit for draft prognosis.

But he will be good; it’s just a matter of which team reaps the benefits.

2. Joey Porter Jr. (CB)

Penn State

Bloodline CB
Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) questions a call during Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 30, 2021. © Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

All these bloodline defensive backs flourish: Patrick Surtain II, Asante Samuel Jr., Antoine Winfield Jr., etc. There’s some sort of voodoo that makes this tick.

And aside from his genetic link to past examples, Penn State’s Joey Porter is just plain productive. Like Branch, it won’t be some big mystery whether he catches on as a starting cornerback. He’ll likely start for a team in September.

Porter has the size, too, about 6’3.” He can stand to improve via run support, which will arrive to his repertoire in time.

3. Deonte Banks (CB)

Maryland

Draft Prospects Available
Nov 7, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (33) reacts to a defensive play against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the third quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

A defensive back party indeed, Banks is the physical beast of the group. He’s hyper-athletic and will thrive in an NFL secondary immediately.

PurplePTSD’s Josh Frey said about Branch this week, “He could potentially be a bust on another team that uses him incorrectly, but he’s such a good fit in Minnesota, that it’s tough to see him failing, barring injury.”

The Vikings 23rd spot is probably the floor for how far Banks could fall. In that vein, he’s the litmus test for Minnesota — if Banks is there, will it remain in the spot and draft him? Or trade down, no matter what, like last year involving Kyle Hamilton?

Brian Flores’ defense needs someone with exactly Banks’ toolkit.


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.

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