The 4 Surprising Parts of the Vikings Draft

The Vikings New and Tentative Playoff Matchup
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The 2023 NFL Draft is one week in the rearview. The Minnesota Vikings drafted these six men:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

The 4 Surprising Parts of the Vikings Draft

Most fans considered the event a success, with enthusiasm honed on the prospect of inserting Jordan Addison in the lineup next to Justin Jefferson.

In addition to Addison, here were the four biggest surprises from the Vikings draft (ranked in no particular order).

1. No Early Round QB

5 Vikings Players Who
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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s still the Kirk Cousins Show in Minneapolis in 2023 — and probably 2024.

Why is 2024 included? Well, the team has no contingency plan for life after Cousins, aside from a lottery-ticket 5th-Rounder in Jaren Hall. Fans will get stoked about Hall this summer — mainly because his predecessor Sean Mannion was so blasé in the preseason — but the BYU alumnus should not be considered the Vikings savior. He must overcome 5th-Round draft precedent, injury history, and starting out at age 26 or 27 by the time the Vikings would need him at QB1.

Minnesota was the sexy target to draft an early-round quarterback last week, but it did not. Committing to Cousins for longer than once thought, or waiting until the 2024 NFL Draft when there is no other choice but to draft the next guy, are the options.

To plan for life after Cousins, choosing an heir apparent felt sensible during the 2023 NFL Draft. No luck, as the Vikings believe in Cousins.

2. Offense, not Defense, the Pick in Round 1

A Future Hall
Jordan Addison on his first day as a Viking after the team selected him in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Vikings chose Addison 23rd on April 27th, 2023, and he’ll immediately vie for a WR2 job next to Justin Jefferson.

Minnesota’s defense ranked sixth-worst in the NFL per DVOA, third-worst in yards allowed, and second-worst in points allowed last season. Surely, drafting a defensive player was automatic for the first two rounds of the draft, right?


General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah leaned into offense-first exuberance with the selection of Jordan Addison, leaving a lot on new defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ plate to fix his side of the ball. For months, it seemed like a wise bet that the Vikings would spend draft capital on the defense, but when the moment of truth arose, they indulged on more offensive firepower.

3. No Offensive Linemen Drafted

GM Press Conference
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The 2023 NFL Draft marked the first time in 16 years that the Vikings selected zero OL rookies on draft night(s).

And for the first time in about a decade, the club will showcase offensive line continuity in back-to-back seasons. That evidently means a lot to Minnesota’s front office and coaching staff. So, here’s what happened: Vikings fans are so accustomed to hodgepodge offensive lines and OL solutions that they expect draft capital to get poured into tackles, guards, and centers.

But this pairing — Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell — believes it already has the special sauce in Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Ed Ingram, and Brian O’Neill. If the two team leaders didn’t endorse the fivesome, they would’ve drafted contingency-plan players.

They didn’t. Offensive line continuity is a brave new world for the Vikings.

4. Linebackers Must Be Set, Too

It's Officially Brian Asamoah Time
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Similar to the offensive line situation, Minnesota is content with its current linebackers, including Brian Asamoah, Jordan Hicks, Troy Reeder, and Troy Dye.

The club also netted standout UDFA Ivan Pace Jr. from the University of Cincinnati, and he could be a wildcard for a roster spot. However, the Vikings did not draft Jack Campbell, Trenton Simpson, or Drew Sanders — the fancy LB names in the draft. With Brian Flores’ background, he should know what makes a defense tick in the middle of the field. Flores was the Pittsburgh Steelers LB coach last year.

Using zero draft capital on linebackers, the Vikings appear to enjoy the group as-is, with a potential side dish of Pace Jr. Linebacker was a roster need on paper, and the Vikings only used “free” undrafted free-agent resources to improve.

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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