The Vikings Quest for a New Toy on Offense

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports.

Compared to the Minnesota Vikings offense, the defense actually needs all the offseason help, at least on paper. The 2022 Vikings fired up the league’s 27th-ranked defense per DVOA, placed 30th in points scored, and 31st in yards allowed.

But in an offense-happy NFL, playmakers and scorers drive the dialogue, so folks wonder what new toy from the 2023 NFL Draft can be gained for Minnesota’s offense.

The Vikings Quest for a New Toy on Offense

And there are three methods to welcome that new toy — from different spots in the draft.

Round 1 WR

5 Players to
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

Per Vegas odds, the Vikings adding a new wide receiver is the frontrunner among all positions. Cornerback and quarterback place second and third, respectively.

If Minnesota spends 1st-Round capital on a WR, it will likely be Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Jordan Addison (USC), Quentin Johnston (TCU), or Zay Flowers (Boston College). Smith-Njigba will probably be gone by the time Minnesota is ready to pick, but drafts get weird.

Adding one of the WR “Big Four” would mandate a new WR2 for Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins not named K.J. Osborn. Of course, Osborn has been quite defiant in recent weeks about his claim to WR2, and he might earn the job, especially if the club doesn’t choose a Round 1 receiver.

But the first reasonable spot — and most exciting — to add a new weapon in Round 1, and it would have to be a wide receiver. The Vikings won’t draft a tight end that early, if at all, and it’s a longshot for the club to draft Bijan Robinson.

The 1st Round is the starting spot to illuminate the Vikings 2023 offensive plans.

After Round 1 WR

The Vikings Quest for
Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) during Tennessee’s game against Georgia at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. © Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

If the Vikings take no Smith-Njigbas, Addisons, Johnstons, or Flowerses, the group following Round 1 looks like this at WR:

  • Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee)
  • Cedric Tillman (Tennessee)
  • Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss)
  • Michael Wilson (Stanford)
  • Josh Downs (North Carolina)
  • Marvin Mims (Oklahoma)
  • Rashee Rice (SMU)
  • Tyler Scott (Cincinnati)
  • A.T. Perry (Wake Forest)
  • Nathaniel Dell (Houston)

The group is thick and may be evidence that the Vikings “wait until later” to draft a WR2-WR3. The other takeaway? If Minnesota chooses one of the men above, he’ll merely compete with Osborn this summer for WR2 snaps, while Addison, for example, might grab the job sooner.

Should you glance down at the draftboard on Friday night, not Thursday, the Vikings will examine this batch of WRs if none was selected Thursday.

Late-Round RB

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports.

Dalvin Cook may be traded or released before too long, and head coach Kevin O’Connell might want one extra running back to work with Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Kene Nwangwu.

This year’s RB draft class is deeper than the Pacific Ocean. After the aforementioned Robinson joins a new team, this collection will be available after Round 1:

  • Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama)
  • Tyjae Spears (Tulane)
  • Zach Charbonnet (UCLA)
  • Kedre Miller (TCU)
  • Roschon Johnson (Texas)
  • Devon Achane (Texas A&M)
  • Tank Bigsby (Auburn)
  • DeWayne McBride (UAB)
  • Eric Gray (Oklahoma)
  • Chase Brown (Illinois)

And several will be Day-3 picks. The Vikings don’t need more running backs, especially if Cook returns, but an additional RB selection could move Nwangwu to kick-returner-only duty.

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