The Vikings Looming Draft Problem

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In 24 days, at the 2023 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings must do a lot with a little.

The draft-capital cupboard is barren, at least compared to other NFL teams, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be asked to pull off his finest work.

The Vikings Looming Draft Problem

According to “draft math” or draft calculators, the Vikings have the league’s fifth-least amount of capital to spend in Kansas City from April 27th to April 29th. They’re going to have to figure it out, especially considering some current roster needs.

Vikings Looming Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Fantasy PointsGraham Barfield tweeted the following graphic Monday, illuminating the Vikings draft standing leaguewide:

Image Courtesy of Graham Barfield

Yes, that’s Minnesota in the cellar, only besting the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and San Francisco 49ers per draft capital. And all four of those teams pulled off chunky trades for quarterbacks in the last two years, while the Vikings did not.

So, how did we get here? Foremost, the Vikings finished 13-4 in 2022, an unforeseen sprint up the NFL’s standings during Kevin O’Connell’s first year as head coach. That kicked Minnesota down the draft “leaderboard” from the onset. Thereafter, though, Adofo-Mensah already used his 2nd-Rounder on T.J. Hockenson last November, a transaction that was really just a move down two draft boards in 2023 and 2024, about a total of three rounds. Too, the Vikings boss also traded a 4th-Rounder last year for the draft pick that selected cornerback Akayleb Evans.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah used 2023 draft capital on a Pro Bowl tight end in Hockenson and a possibly-startable corner in Evans. Those pennies were spent, and they’re not coming back unless Adofo-Mensah pulls off nifty trades at the end of the month — which he will likely attempt.

For two reasons, ranking fifth least via draft capital is a problem, at least for now. First, the Vikings have a handful of roster needs that appear to need attention in the draft. Otherwise, more free agents would’ve joined the club by now. Minnesota desperately needs a cornerback or two, and no roster need should be classified as more urgent. Then, off-ball linebacker, wide receiver, and the defensive line’s interior could use help. Those spots pale in comparison to cornerback for attention, but they need tender love and care, nevertheless.

Open for Business
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

There’s also the matter of planning for the next quarterback. Kirk Cousins is only attached to the roster through the end of 2023, a rarity for a franchise quarterback. Men like Cousins usually get extended beforehand — but not this time. Therefore, if Adofo-Mensah wants to plan for the Cousins afterlife now, he must draft a quarterback in three weeks.

How will he do so with fifth-least-in-the-NFL draft capital and the 23rd overall pick? It won’t be easy. He’d be faced with digging into the 2024 draft-capital cabinet.

Thankfully, the Vikings current depth chart isn’t a dumpster fire — aside from the brooding CB conundrum — and the club can use the draft and free agency throughout the spring and summer for enhancements.

But as a measuring stick with the rest of the league, Minnesota doesn’t have a barrage of draft picks. It has five.


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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 OverTheCap.com.

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