Dustin Baker’s Vikings Mock Draft 1.0 — 2023

Fans Locked on 1
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) walks onto the field prior to the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Smith-Njigba did not play due to injury. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch.

The Minnesota Vikings own five picks heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah dwindled the 2023 stockpile last year for trades involving Akayleb Evans, T.J. Hockenson, and Jalen Reagor.

Vikings fans should fully expect Adofo-Mensah to once again trade like a fiend on draft night, so in that vein, mock drafts are a bit futile. There’s absolutely no way the current slate of picks goes unchanged.

Dustin Baker’s Vikings Mock Draft 1.0 — 2023

Still, here’s the best stab at a predictive mock draft for the 2023 Vikings. One trade was made, a move out of the 23rd overall pick.

Trade: The Vikings send the 23rd and 158th picks to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 30th and 62nd picks.

Round 1: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR)

Vikings Mock Draft 1
Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) warms up prior to the NCAA Division I football game against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch.

Pick Number = 30th
College = Ohio State

The Pro Football Network mock draft simulator allowed Smith-Njigba to fall near the end of Round 1, so the Vikings pounce — while manufacturing a Kwesi-esque trade reminiscent of 2022.

Smith-Njigba is startable Week 1 in Minnesota, and fears of Adam Thielen’s absence are put to rest. Ohio State wide receivers drafted last year were a success. Why not Smith-Njigba?

Round 2: Emmanuel Forbes (CB)

Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Emmanuel Forbes (13) warms up before a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Pick Number = 62nd
College = Mississippi State

The Vikings ranked 27th in 2022 per defensive DVOA, 30th in points allowed, and 31st in yards allowed to opponents, so the defense needs all the help it can get.

Forbes is known for his competitiveness and slender build and was actually ESPN Mel Kiper’s first mock-draft theory for the Vikings in January.

Forbes joins the Vikings CB room with Byron Murphy, Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, perhaps a free agent to be named soon — and suddenly, the Vikings secondary doesn’t feel so bleak.

Round 3: Sydney Brown (S)

Jul 27, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Sydney Brown talks to the media during Big 10 football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports.

Pick Number = 87th
College = Illinois

Of course, Minnesota has Harrison Smith, Lewis Cine, and Camryn Bynum on roster, but Smith won’t play forever. In fact, 2023 or 2024 will probably be his last hurrah.

The Draft Network explained Brown’s possible utility as a rookie, “You’re drafting Brown for a three-down role in the NFL, but you’ll need to ensure you’re asking him to play to his strengths and be willing to move him around.”

That’ll work. Especially inside The Brian Flores Show.

Round 4: Jaquelin Roy (DT)

Apr 17, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (5) is sacked by LSU Tigers defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy (99) during the second half of the annual Purple and White spring game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

Pick Number = 119th
College = LSU

The Vikings adore LSU products, spanning back-to-back general management regimes. Last week, Adofo-Mensah signed Dean Lowry for DT duty, and grabbing Roy in Round 4 does nothing to change Lowry’s starting gig in 2023.

He can develop, though, for a year or two and see what flushes out down the road. Roy is more athletic than most defensive tackles sought by the Vikings since Sharrif Floyd, and that isn’t a bad thing.

The Vikings have drafted Danielle Hunter, Justin Jefferson, and Ed Ingram from LSU in the last eight drafts. Let’s head back to the wishing well.

Round 6: Clayton Tune (QB)

Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) checks the play at the line during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Pick Number = 211th
College = Houston

Adofo-Mensah just doesn’t have the draft capital to strike on Anthony Richardson or Will Levis — if those are even “his guys” in the first place.

Still, Minnesota needs a life-after-Kirk-Cousins plan, as Cousins’ contract runs out in 11 months. Mock-drafting Tune won’t inspire everyone, but he’s a dart targeting the board in an offseason when Minnesota must begin to peel back the curtain on the post-Cousins era.

If one assumes the Vikings don’t use Round 1 on a quarterback, well, all of the decent QB prospects thereafter — Hendon Hooker, Stetson Bennett, Jaren Hall — are old. Tune isn’t crazy old, so consider him a compromise.

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.