Vikings Draft Picks in Line for Big Snaps

Mar 3, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Southern California defensive back Mekhi Blackmon (DB04) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings underwent their second NFL Draft with general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the helm last month. Though this crop of draft picks was a bit smaller, there should be plenty of expectation for the group to make an impact.

Vikings Draft Picks in Line for Big Snaps

Last season, it was notable how little the Vikings got from their 2022 draft picks. Lewis Cine was shelved early in the season after a freak injury, and Andrew Booth Jr. struggled to stay healthy, which is why he was available to Minnesota in the first place. Ed Ingram played an important role on the offensive line, but Brian Asamoah was relegated to reserve duties for a good portion of the year.

With six new rookie draft picks in the fold, how much can each of them be expected to play?

WR Jordan Addison

Draft Picks in Line
Minnesota Vikings WR Jordan Addison watching a video of himself on draft night — accidentally hanging up on the Vikings general manager and head coach. Minnesota selected Addison with the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

This is a no-brainer, but Jordan Addison will be a starter from day one. He was selected to play opposite superstar Justin Jefferson, and the goal will be for him to command plenty of coverage his way also. Addison is a well-rounded receiver who can operate both outside and in the slot. He should create significantly more separation than an aging Adam Thielen was able to, and pushing K.J. Osborn into more traditional third wide receiver duties makes sense.

CB Mekhi Blackmon

Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon’s first practice as a Viking after being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Blackmon is a cornerback from USC drafted by Minnesota in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

How soon Blackmon is named a starter could depend as much on his development as it could on his availability. Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. should get the nod during week one, but both have dealt with previous injury concerns. Blackmon is well accomplished and adds to a cornerback room that needs help. Joejuan Williams was signed as a veteran free agent, but Blackmon could quickly be seen as the next man up.

S Jay Ward

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Jay Ward (16) against the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

What the Vikings do at the safety position remains to be seen. Last year’s first-round pick Lewis Cine is ready to go, but it’s not a guarantee that he has no restrictions from day one. Whether he takes over for Cam Bynum alongside Harrison Smith right away is hard to tell at this point. Ward seems to factor in more as a nickel corner, though, for Minnesota. He could be a rotational player with Byron Murphy Jr. having signed as a free agent this offseason.

While Ward did play safety in college, it wasn’t until 2021 that he moved to the position. He has shown the ability to be a ballhawk, and his understanding of the field from a deeper view could help him in coverage.

NT Jacquelin Roy

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana State defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy (DL14) participates in the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

While not an edge rusher by any means, Roy can get to the quarterback through the middle of the line. He is strong and able to shed defenders while in pursuit. Ahead of him on the depth chart would presumably be Khyiris Tonga, but it’s not as though there’s a long track record for him or that he couldn’t be overtaken. As a fifth-round pick, Roy will probably see more of a developmental arc, but a quick take to this level may have him opening eyes.

QB Jaren Hall

Nov 19, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) Is pushed out of the pocket by Utah Tech Trailblazers defensive lineman Mackavelli Malotumau (51) in the fourth quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

A succession plan behind Kirk Cousins is necessary, and while the Vikings could’ve opted for WIll Levis or someone sooner, they decided to be patient and pick their spot. BYU is not a powerhouse by any means, but they have produced talent at the NFL level, and Kevin O’Connell now gets a project to work on throughout the season. Hall seems like a good bet to avoid the field in year one, but he could overtake Nick Mullens for the backup job at some point.

RB DeWayne McBride

Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama???Birmingham running back Dewayne McBride (RB15) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As Dalvin Cook is likely on to new adventures, each player in the running back room shifts up a slot. Alexander Mattison is now the starter, with Ty Chandler seemingly filling in as his backup. Kene Nwanwgu isn’t an every-down guy, and it may be more valuable to keep him fresh for special teams. McBride isn’t going to see much run at all, but he could carve out a special teams role and then look to move his way up the depth chart.

Overall, at least on paper, it seems that the Vikings grabbed a good deal of guys that can contribute in this draft. Whether good or bad remains to be seen, but pushing talent on the roster should always create healthy competition.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.