The 6 Most Popular Vikings 1st-Rounders per PFF

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

We are nearly there. In just over a week, the speculation will be over, and we can turn our attention to the players the Vikings have drafted. The first round of the event will start on April 27th.

For now, though, the speculation continues as everyone tries to figure out what Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell have planned — particularly with that first-round pick.

Today, we focus on what the Vikings fanbase is thinking, specifically those using the mock draft simulator on Pro Football Focus.

The 6 Most Popular Vikings 1st-Rounders per PFF

On the mock draft simulator, PFF has an analysis part, showing the most popular player selections for that pick and what percentage each player has been selected. Not every Vikings mock draft will have been done by a Vikings fan, but it’s safe to assume the majority have. These results give us a reasonable indication of what Vikings fans think, with realistic choices — at least according to PFF’s draft rankings.

The order and percentage of each player are correct at the time of writing and include six players from three positions: two cornerbacks, two wide receivers, and two interior defensive linemen.

Bryan Bresee, IDL, Clemson – 12.1%

The 6 Most Popular
Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (DL02) participates in the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

As the most popular choice, Bryan Bresee might be a slight surprise. IDL is undoubtedly an area the Vikings should address in the draft, but WR, CB, and QB are more trendy picks. Bresee is the 21st-ranked player on the PFF draft board, putting him in the range for the Vikings at 23 and leading those who believe in selecting the ‘best player available’ to choose Bresee more than any other player.

An explosive and versatile defensive tackle, Bresee could be a difference-maker for the Vikings defensive front. He can move along the line of the defensive front and, most notably, will be adding some much-needed interior pass rush. There’s a lot to like about making this selection.

Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College – 10.9%

Nov 12, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Boston College Eagles receiver Zay Flowers (4) gestures to fans after scoring during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The first of the two WRs to make the list is fast becoming a popular choice among Vikings fans, Zay Flowers. A big riser on the draft boards this year, Flowers is ranked 29th by PFF and is a dynamic receiver that is a big play waiting to happen. He isn’t a well-polished route runner, and it’s an area he can improve. Should that improvement come, it’s scary to think how good Flowers could be.

His natural athleticism, explosiveness, and ability to change direction at speed will make him an immediate success, opposite Jefferson. It will require some manufactured touches, but getting the ball in Flowers’ hands with room to operate is a recipe for success. The question is how high his ceiling is, and can he reach it? If so, similar to Jefferson in 2020, Flowers could be a steal for the Vikings in the ’20s.

Jordan Addison, WR, USC – 10.3%

steam for new wr2
Nov 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) following the victory against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Almost as popular as Flowers for the Adam Thielen replacement is Jordan Addison, who is currently ranked 30th on the PFF draft board. He is a different style of wide receiver. With Addison, it is all about the route running, and he will be able to run a full route tree from Day 1 in the NFL. 

Addison’s strength comes from creating separation on his routes at all three levels. He has one of the higher floors in this draft class and would be the safe bet, with the ability to be a high-volume target. At the very least, Addison should be a high-end WR2, which the Vikings are looking for. He could be available for the Vikings after trading back, which would be an ideal scenario.

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland – 9.8%

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.

I thought Deonte Banks would be number one on this list, but maybe his popularity as a first-round choice is too new. He has certainly been a favorite for the Vikings at 23 in recent mock drafts and with good reason. The Vikings need help at cornerback, and Deonte Banks ticks all the boxes for what Brian Flores wants from a cornerback. Banks has the size, length, and athletism to be a physical press corner. 

He went 4.35 in the 40-yard dash with a 42-inch vertical and an 11-foot-4 broad jump at the NFL Combine. He needs to refine his technique to maximize his potential, but the tools are there to be an elite cornerback. Banks continues to rise draft boards and currently sits at number 16 on PFF’s draft board. The concern is — much like Sauce Gardner last year — a one-time favorite to be a Viking ends up out of reach and turns out to be elite for another team.

Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State – 6.1%

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.

Quite possibly my ideal pick for the Vikings of players who are plausible to be on the board at 23, Joey Porter Jr should go much earlier, and PFF has him ranked 18th. How high he goes could depend on whether teams like the Lions, Seahawks, and Bears go CB at the top of the draft. Also, whether teams prefer Porter or Banks, as one might make it to 23, there is little chance both will.

Porter isn’t the athlete that Banks is, but he is a high football IQ cornerback with the size and physicality Flores will be looking for. Porter excels at establishing leverage at the line of scrimmage and can maintain it. He also has excellent ball skills at the catch point. Everything is there for Porter to be dominant in Flores’ defense.

Calijah Kancey, IDL, Pittsburgh – 5.9%

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.

We finish where we started, on the interior defensive line — this time with Calijah Kancey, currently the highest-ranked player on this list by PFF, coming in at number 13. Kancey is quite a bit smaller than Bresee and is undoubtedly undersized for the position. However, his ability to get to the quarterback has people intrigued. It is an area that is becoming more important for an interior defensive lineman, so Kancey’s 17 sacks over the last two seasons have got him noticed.

Despite the high ranking, I do think there’s an excellent chance Kancey is on the board at 23. His small stature will put some teams off, particularly taking him with a high draft pick. Is he worth the gamble at 23? Possibly, the Vikings need to find some interior pass rush, and Kancey will certainly provide that. Where does he fit in the Vikings defense, and does his size rule him out of being an every-down player?