The LSU-Vikings Pipeline Could Continue in 2024
One of the more common paths from college to NFL through the NFL Draft in recent years has been the LSU-Vikings pipeline.
Over the past four NFL Drafts, the Minnesota Vikings have selected four prospects out of the LSU Tigers program:
- WR Justin Jefferson (2020)
- RG Ed Ingram (2022)
- DL Jaquelin Roy (2023)
- S Jay Ward (2023)
That trend could continue in 2024, considering some of the needs that the Vikings may have when April rolls around. Here is a look at three LSU prospects that could be on Minnesota’s radar during the 2024 NFL Draft.
QB Jayden Daniels
The big talker in Vikings circles over the past couple years, and especially now that Kirk Cousins is about to enter free agency, has been the future of Minnesota’s quarterback position. If the Vikings were to select a QB early in this spring’s draft, Jayden Daniels feels like the best bet of any not named Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.
Daniels possesses a rocket of an arm which allows him to spread the ball across all three levels of the field. His average depth of target was 10.5 yards this season, ranking 17th among 86 QBs in college football with at least 300 drop backs, per PFF.
Even with so many of his targets being down the field, Daniels completed 72.2% of his passes this season, and he simply has the perfect amount of touch on his passes to lay them perfectly into his target’s arms. Combine that with some ridiculous athletic ability that allows him to evade defenders while on the run, and we have a potential star in the making here.
WR Brian Thomas
A potential need for the Vikings this offseason comes at the wide receiver position. The only Vikings receivers under contract next season are Jordan Addison, Justin Jefferson, and Jalen Nailor.
While it’s a star-studded duo at the top, the Vikings would be wise to add a couple extra bodies to the group. Or, they could do more than simply add “bodies” and bring in an athletic freak like Brian Thomas.
Thomas stands at 6’4 and weighs 205 pounds with extreme length that will severely outmatch even the longest NFL CBs. Add in that he could be a candidate to run in the 4.4s at the combine, and this is a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses.
The LSU receiver certainly uses this combination of size and speed to his advantage too. He is a menace in the red zone, hauling in 15 TDs this season to lead all of college football. He has terrific body control, which allows him to go up and grab a pass while still finding a way to get his feet inbounds. Considering the Vikings could be going a good portion of the 2024 season without T.J, Hockenson in the lineup, it might be wise for them to target a red zone threat like Thomas in the second round.
DT Maason Smith
Both Jonathan Bullard and Harrison Phillips are set to hit free agency this spring, so the Vikings could need to find some extra starting talent on the defensive line. Perhaps LSU DT Maason Smith could reunite with his former teammate, Jaquelin Roy, in Minnesota.
Smith is an absolute freak who can immediately impact an NFL defense. The defensive tackle stands at 6’6″ and weighs 315 pounds. His brute force in the middle of LSU’s defensive line wreaked havoc on opposing offenses all season, and his ability to stop the run should make him a top-75 pick in next spring’s draft.
He is a yet another ridiculous athlete in the trenches who could run well below 5.0 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and his closing speed allows him to consistently wrap up plays.
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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.