The 5 Most Likely Players to Be Drafted by Vikings

Nov 19, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) breaks up a pass for Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 NFL Draft is 26 days away, and the Minnesota Vikings will choose 23rd on that Thursday evening.

A few weeks of free agency remain before the event, so more players could join the roster before the draft.

The 5 Most Likely Players to Be Drafted by Vikings

Still, based on the Vikings draft position, adherence to the best player available philosophy, and team needs, these are the five most likely players to be picked by Minnesota if it does not trade out of the No. 23 pick. They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 5 = least likely).

5. Quentin Johnston (WR, TCU)

Likely Players to
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) runs for a 76-yard touchdown after a catch against the Michigan Wolverines in the second half of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

This gentleman was all the WR craze — before the NFL Combine kicked off. Then, the draft community decided he was a wee bit smaller than expected, and his draft stock fell accordingly.

It’s weird.

But it might just be glorious for the Vikings, who should be WR2 shopping after Adam Thielen’s adventure to the Carolina Panthers.

Johnston is a big, fast, and dynamic wide receiver and, if drafted by Minnesota, could line up as a WR2 early as Week 1. And the Vikings would have JJ, T.J., K.J., and QJ as the main offensive playmakers.

4. Jordan Addison (WR, USC)

Sep 3, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) carries the ball against the Rice Owls in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Somebody will probably take Quentin Johnson before the Vikings 23rd pick, so Minnesota could pivot to a smaller-but-still-peppy-as-hell receiver in Jordan Addison.

He’s four inches shorter than Johnson, but who really cares in the modern NFL? Addison scored 17 touchdowns in a season at Pittsburgh in 2021, later transferring to USC for a grander stage.

Like Johnson, if the Vikings choose Addison on April 27th, he should be trusted as WR2 right away.

3. Cam Smith (CB, South Carolina)

Sep 25, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaylan Foster (12) celebrates with defensive back Cam Smith (9). Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports.

Sure, the Vikings need a wide receiver, but they need a cornerback back more imminently.

For now, Minnesota employs Byron Murphy, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans as [possibly] startable corners, meaning at least one to three more CBs are needed before summer. Cam Smith was the Vikings mock-draft darling until Brian Flores was hired as defensive coordinator, and then the guy two names down this list took over.

Still, there is a reasonable chance Smith becomes a Viking because, well, the team needs starting-caliber corners. He’s known for physicality and toughness.

2. Emmanuel Forbes (CB, Mississippi State)

Nov 19, 2022; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) returns an interception for a touchdown against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports.

Forbes edges Smith only because of this: the Vikings could trade down on April 27th, and he may be available early in Round 2, enhancing his chances of joining the Vikings in a couple of different ways.

He’s slender as hell — he makes Cameron Dantzler look chunky — weighing 166 pounds on a 6’1″ frame. But his versatility and intelligence are considered extraordinary.

Forbes is a true outside cornerback. The Vikings need those.

1. Deonte Banks (CB, Maryland)

Dec 30, 2022; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack wide receiver Keyon Lesane (15) reaches for a pass as Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) defends in the fourth quarter in the 2022 Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The pick with Brian Flores written all over him, Banks is arguably the most physical corner in the draft, and Minnesota will need that skillset in Flores’ scheme.

His draft stock fits beautifully with the Vikings 23rd pick, he should be the best player available at the Vikings spot, and has 4.35 speed.

Banks is 23 and also the most mock-drafted player to the Vikings during this cycle. He should be classified as the tentative frontrunner to end up in Minnesota.

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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