The Weirdest and Boldest Vikings Mock Draft Yet

Mar 3, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (QB08) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Are you ready to wrap up the eight-year Danielle Hunter era while getting into bed with Kentucky’s Will Levis?

The Draft Network has you covered.

The Weirdest and Boldest Vikings Mock Draft Yet

With hundreds — perhaps nearing thousands — of mock drafts in the books eight days before the NFL’s big event, TDN’s Justin Melo has somehow concocted the weirdest and boldest of the bunch, onboarding Levis at quarterback via earth-shattering trade with Arizona Cardinals and the 3rd overall pick. The price? Outside linebacker Danielle Hunter, plus the Vikings No. 23 overall pick, a 2023 3rd-Rounder, 2024 1st-Rounder, and 2025 1st-Rounder. Wowzers.

The Weirdest and Boldest
Sep 24, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

Trading Hunter before June 1st would leave the Vikings upside down financially, but that evidently doesn’t matter in a mock-draft simulation. Minnesota would weaken its defense, presumably opting for Marcus Davenport and Patrick Jones as the primary 2023 pass rush — an odd concession for the team that ranked second to last in yards allowed last year.

Melo explained, “The Arizona Cardinals possess an interest in trading out after the Texans select Anderson. Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort receives a king’s ransom of draft picks and a proven EDGE in Danielle Hunter in order to move back 21 spots.”

Levis has slipped all the way to the Vikings at No. 23 in a few mock drafts. And that’s when draft heads aren’t busy forecasting Tenneesee’s Hendon Hooker to Minnesota.

Will Levis Week
Nov 19, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) waits for a snap during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

“Kentucky quarterback Will Levis could be Minnesota’s target. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell runs a similar offense to what Levis once operated under Liam Coen at Kentucky,” Melo concluded Wednesday.

The other oddity about handing over the behemoth haul to Arizona is the product in return. Climbing 20 spots in the draft seems like an intriguing theory, indeed, but wouldn’t the Vikings strike on a surer thing than Levis? The Wildcat quarterback could turn out to be wonderful, but his NFL projection is more mysterious than Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. And trading that much draft capital + Hunter it feels like a mammoth gamble.

University of Kentucky senior quarterback Will Levis has his height, weight and reach checked during Pro Day at Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, Mar. 24, 2023. © Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

As for theoretically losing Hunter, the Vikings would be hoping to fix a 27th-ranked defense via DVOA in 2022 and a unit that placed 30th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed — potentially without its two main pass rushers. Or, you know, the two men who salvaged an already-bad defense in Hunter and Za’Darius Smith.

Six weeks ago, Smith tweeted a goodbye, and most Vikings fans expect him to be traded or released in the next couple of weeks. Giving Hunter to the Cardinals would be a curious remedy for a defense that more urgently needs repair than the offense.

But Melo’s plan would undoubtedly be bold, possibly the second-wildest trade in Vikings history.

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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