Vikings Get Interception Magnet in Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft

The Minnesota Vikings have a bunch of weaknesses on their roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Ed Donatell, the defensive coordinator in 2022, was let go in an attempt to fix the defense after a disastrous year. However, the organization shouldn’t ignore the personnel problems. While the scheme certainly didn’t work, the roster deserves some of the blame, too.

Slow linebackers, an unproven safety that struggled in his first campaign as a starter, struggling cornerbacks, and a limited interior pass rush didn’t allow Donatell to play the defense he wanted. In addition to a new defensive play caller, the Vikings must add some new players to the defense to fix the unit.

Vikings Get Interception Magnet in Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft

Vikings Get Interception Magnet in Mel Kiper's Mock Draft
Sep 25, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) reacts with teammates after an interception against the LSU Tigers during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback is one of the most significant Vikings’ liabilities ever since Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes left the team after the 2019 season. Many resources were used to fix the position, but it hasn’t worked yet. Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler were picked in 2020, and Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans in 2022.

However, free agent signing Patrick Peterson and practice squad player Duke Shelley finished the season as starting cornerbacks of the purple team. Both are free agents in the 2023 off-season and could play for a different team next season. To address that, one of the top names in NFL draft media circles, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., sent the Vikings some help in his latest mock draft.

Jan 2, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; DUPLICATE***Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Casey Washington (14) holds off Mississippi State Bulldogs cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) in the first quarter during the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

His pick for the Vikings is Emmanuel Forbes, a cornerback from Mississippi State.

Veteran Patrick Peterson was the Vikings’ top corner this season, but he’s a free agent, and even if the team brings him back, it should start thinking about the future in the secondary. Safety Lewis Cine, Minnesota’s first-rounder last April, played just two defensive snaps before breaking his left leg and missing the rest of the season. He should make a full recovery, but can the Vikings improve on the outside too?

Rookie second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. played in just six games due to injury, and he’s not a lock to start. Whoever takes over for fired coordinator Ed Donatell needs options. Forbes was an interception magnet for the Bulldogs; he had 14 over three seasons, including six in 2022. He gave up a few big plays, but he has tremendous potential as a cover corner.

Mel Kiper Jr, ESPN

Forbes is an intriguing prospect for the Vikings. Depending on the future of Shelley and Peterson, the new defensive coordinator could be stuck with two second-year players, Evans and Booth. Both had an injury-plagued rookie campaign.

Cameron Dantzler is still on the team, but he appeared to be benched a few times last season and didn’t play in the year’s final games because of an unknown personal matter.

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

Relying heavily on rookie cornerbacks is always a big gamble. Only the Tennessee Titans allowed more passing yards in the 2022 season than the Vikings, despite playing against a multitude of backup quarterbacks.

Forbes’ playing style is very aggressive. He loves to jump routes and has excellent ball skills. That can occasionally lead to some big plays but also game-changing defensive plays. The poster boy for that playing style in the NFL is Trevon Diggs. Opposing quarterbacks often avoided throwing in his direction because they feared turning the ball over.

A concern when drafting Forbes is his slim frame, as he only weighs about 180 pounds, despite his size of six feet. That is a problem against big receivers and in the running game.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has to hit on a cornerback at some point. Booth and Evans have potential, though, and could be the solution at the position. However, adding more bodies, especially a talented one like Forbes, to the room is certainly not the worst idea.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt