Vikings Draft Will Be Different in 2024

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The Minnesota Vikings enter the offseason with eight draft picks. Unlike last season, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can use his second-round selection in addition to a first-rounder, a fourth, two picks in round five, and a trio of choices in the sixth round. His third-round pick was part of the trade that sent T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota.

Vikings Draft Will Be Different in 2024

For multiple years, Vikings fans began every offseason knowing that the team should address the underwhelming offensive line and the defensive backfield, specifically the cornerbacks. That will change this year.

Vikings Draft Will Be Different in 2024
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The offensive line has been a pleasant surprise. They have been a decent unit from left to right for the first time in years. Offensive tackles Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw are Pro Bowl-caliber players, and the interior of the unit, featuring the emerging sophomore Ed Ingram, steadily improving Garrett Bradbury, and free agent signing Dalton Risner, has finally reached a respectable level. When someone had to miss time, the backups have also done well.

With Risner becoming a free agent, the front office must make sure to either keep him or sign a replacement, but there is no glaring need that would require a top draft selection.

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Also generally a huge need in Minnesota, the team employs some talented defensive backs after drafting three of them in the last two seasons while also hiring free agent Byron Murphy.

Murphy has been a capable CB1 for the Vikings, with sophomore Akayleb Evans playing competently on the opposite side. Rookie Mekhi Blackmon has shown flashes of a future starter, and sophomore Andrew Booth is slowly improving. The latter has been a huge disappointment for Adofo-Mensah, but in limited playing time in 2023, he looks much more reliable than in his first campaign and could still turn into a good player as he is only 23 years old.

While none of those four players has made the step to become an elite CB, they are all solid players, and the young athletes especially deserve some more time to become their best version. With already four guys in place for the upcoming season, it seems unlikely that the Vikings would spend significant draft capital.

Drops One Hint
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So, what will the Vikings do with their first selection if those two spots aren’t needed?

That remains to be seen, but there are two favorite options. The Vikings could start to prepare for the future, regardless of the potential return of pending free agent Kirk Cousins, and draft their future franchise quarterback in a loaded draft class with six signal-callers in first-round contention.

At some point, the regime Adofo-Mensah/Kevin O’Connell must pick their guy, someone they handpick for O’Connell’s system, develop the young passer and attach their careers to his name. The ownership certainly didn’t hire a former QB and offensive-minded head coach to pass up on quarterbacks in every draft.

How Far Can Danielle
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) is sacked hard by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) in the second quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Trading up could become necessary if the duo identifies a top prospect at the most important position. Those trades are costly, but nobody cares if the selected player is any good, as the Chiefs and Bills proved when they selected Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.

An alternative option if the Vikings don’t like the achievable QB prospects could be the acquisition of a pass-rusher. Also a premium position, the team is scheduled to lose Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport, and D.J. Wonnum in free agency, leaving Patrick Jones and Andre Carter as the only outside linebackers on the team. Unless they can fix the position in free agency, it would require spending at least one early draft pick.

The draft’s first round will kick off on April 25 in Detroit.

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