The Sweet Aspect of the Mekhi Blackmon Draft Selection

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 cornermback from USC drafted by Minnesota in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Minnesota Vikings entered draft night on April 27th with many needs, and the first selection was a total mystery. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah chose Jordan Addison with his first-round pick. He only had four more draft picks, so he had to make the best of them. A fantastic move in the third round helped him do that.

The Sweet Aspect of the Mekhi Blackmon Draft Selection

This year’s second-round pick was shipped to Detroit as part of the T.J. Hockenson trade, so the Vikings lacked some draft capital to fix their flawed roster. However, Adofo-Mensah received a call from his former employer, the San Francisco 49ers, and general manager John Lynch. The Hall of Fame safety traded for the 87th overall pick, a third-rounder, and the second pick of the Vikings.

The Sweet Aspect of the Mekhi Blackmon Draft Selection
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In exchange, Minnesota received picks 102, 164, and 222. Suddenly, the Vikings had the chance to draft a couple more players with their choices. Of course, those late-round selections aren’t guaranteed to amount to anything, but having two additional lottery tickets does help.

Finally making his second selection, Adofo-Mensah waited until the final pick of the third round to make the final pick of the second day of the draft and selected cornerback Mekhi Blackmon out of USC with the 102nd overall pick from the trade with the 49ers – 15 picks later than the 87th pick would’ve been.

Pick 102 has been a good one for the Vikings. Defensive end Brian Robison was drafted at that spot in 2007, just like Alexander Mattison in 2019. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was Washington’s selection with the 102nd pick in 2012.

The Vikings desperately needed a cornerback, so Blackmon could have easily been the choice at 87. And that is where things get interesting. Between those two picks (87 and 102), not a single cornerback was drafted, so Blackmon was the top CB on the Vikings’ list at that point. They didn’t miss out on a CB prospect they liked more.

Unsung Move of the
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Blackmon had a long college career. He started at San Mateo, a community college, and transferred to Colorado after one season. After four seasons, Blackmon once again transferred to USC, where he finished out his college career.

The rookie has the opportunity to earn meaningful snaps early in his career, as the CB group is an unproven one. Byron Murphy will start, but his two partners are unknown. Last year’s rookies, Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans, will compete in training camp with Blackmon and some longshot candidates for the remaining spots in the lineup.

Adofo-Mensah’s third-round pick had an outstanding 2022 season. The new Vikings defender had a great year in 2022, with impressive numbers to show for it. According to¬†Profootballfocus, he was in 534 coverage snaps and was targeted 63 times, allowing only 30 receptions. Two hundred eighty-six yards and 1 touchdown allowed, and 3 interceptions led to a ridiculous passer rating allowed of 46.1.

Blackmon was graded as a top-5 cornerback in the nation in both man and zone coverage and was the second-best player in coverage in general, only trailing fifth-overall pick Devon Witherspoon, according to PFF.

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The lack of size could be a problem. His team lists him at 5’11” and 178 lbs, ranking him as one of the smaller cornerbacks in the league, but he loves the scheme he is playing in. He recently expressed his excitement for Brian Flores’ defensive style as it reminds him of what he did in college.

It is possible that Flores handpicked him to play a specific role envisioned by the new defensive coordinator. That is another reason to believe that Blackmon can play a significant role in the upcoming season — he was selected by Flores, while Booth and Evans were chosen with Ed Donatell in the building.

Adofo-Mensah gained a couple of extra draft picks and possibly still selected the player he would’ve picked anyway. The two additional draft picks were spent on Jaren Hall and DeWayne McBride.

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Hall is a developmental quarterback who is a long shot to turn into a starting quarterback, but crazier things have happened. Having the chance to find a starter this late is intriguing, no matter how unlikely it is. If it doesn’t work that way, even backup quarterbacks have a lot of value. The rookie passer will be one of the most fascinating players to watch in training camp and the preseason.

Also, a magnetic prospect is running back McBride, as those tend to star in the preseason games. Some Vikings fans may remember Mike Boone or A.J. Rose. The rookie is also competing for a roster spot and a role in an offense with some vacant running back snaps. He must show his ability to be a capable receiver. His running skills are impressive.

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