Vikings Fans Have a New Draft Prediction

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans look on before the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 NFL Draft is five weeks away, and the Minnesota Vikings own the 23rd overall pick, with four more draft selections after that.

The franchise ventured into the offseason with fans expecting defense to be the priority after a lousy and embarrassing showing against the New York Giants in the 2022 playoffs. Minnesota fired Ed Donatell, hired Brian Flores, and change was underway.

Vikings Fans Have a New Draft Prediction

Yet, following Minnesota’s free-agent acquisition of Marcus Davenport (OLB, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), and Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), fans are beginning to anticipate a different emphasis in Round 1 of the draft — wide receiver.

fans have a new draft
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

We polled fans on Twitter after free agency’s first wave, asking for a prediction — not a wishlist — for Minnesota’s first overall pick, and most responded WR. About 38% landed on wideout as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s chief priority, likely targeting a player like Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Quentin Johnston (TCU), Zay Flowers (Boston College), or Jordan Addison (USC).

The poll was unscientific, and 3,304 people replied.

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) walks onto the field prior to the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Smith-Njigba did not play due to injury. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch.

Coincidentally, wide receiver is the popular pick among NFL pundits’ mock drafts, too. Before free agency, cornerback Deonte Banks from Maryland was all the rage, but proceeding Murphy’s addition to the depth chart, a pivot to WR has come into focus.

On Monday, The Draft Network envisioned Boston College’s Zay Flowers becoming a Viking in five weeks, a new running mate for Justin Jefferson. Longtime wideout Adam Thielen left the organization on March 10th and curiously landed with the Carolina Panthers nine days later.

TDN’s Brently Weissman wrote about Flowers to Minnesota in his latest mock draft, “Adam Thielen’s run with the Vikings has ended and the team must look to add another receiver to go opposite Justin Jefferson. The speedy playmaker out of Boston College could be a great fit as a deep-threat option and he is also excellent with the ball in his hands after the catch.”

Another WR to Circle
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.

And even though fans predict a wide receiver in Round 1, don’t rule out a possibility of a trade-back on draft night. Adofo-Mensah used the maneuver in 2022, netting Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Ed Ingram, and Brian Asamoah as a result. Adofo-Mensah loves to trade players and draft capital — he traded more than any general manager during last year’s draft — and with just five picks, that number could balloon to 7-10 new players by the draft’s end.

The Vikings also have roster needs at off-ball linebacker and defensive tackle, so don’t forget about rookies like Bryan Bresee (DT, Clemson), Calijah Kancey (DT, Pitt), and Trenton Sampson (LB, Clemson). Otherwise, Adofo-Mensah could push all his chips into the middle of the table for a quarterback like Anthony Richardson (Florida) or Will Levis (Kentucky) via trade, as Kirk Cousins is only under contract for one more season.

Left up to fans, though, they predict a fancy new wide receiver — a draft habit that made the Vikings famous.

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).

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