The Vikings Top Value Pick in the Draft

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Two choices from the Minnesota Vikings during the 2023 NFL Draft grabbed headlines and to a degree — fair enough.

Minnesota selected WR Jordan Addison from USC in Round 1, cementing the Vikings as an offense-first franchise for the next few years. Two days later, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah found a promising developmental quarterback in Jaren Hall from BYU. And because he’s a quarterback, folks’ wheels spun about his upside for the future. Overall, this is the draft haul:

  • 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 Vikings Top Value Pick in the Draft

While Addison will become undeniably exciting, and everyone will laser focus on Hall’s preseason, the top value pick arrived in Round 7 — DeWayne McBride from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Top Value Pick in
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Through their actions this offseason, Minnesota has guaranteed it will run the football more in 2023, desiring balance via playcalling, unlike 2022 when the club ran the ball the third least leaguewide. Adofo-Mensah extended fullback C.J. Ham’s contract, signed a blocking tight end in Josh Oliver, and currently has five running backs on the roster.

The Vikings will increase the rushing playcalling in September — write that down.

When that comes to life, McBride might get some carries. Of course, Alexander Mattison will be the RB1 on the depth chart if Dalvin Cook leaves via trade or release, but McBride won’t be ignored. Adofo-Mensah said after the draft that Minnesota assigned a starter’s grade while scouting the young tailback, and that means something.

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Running backs’ importance in the NFL is at an all-time low, so a 7th-Round ball carrier isn’t necessarily a discarded lottery ticket. Most 7th-Rounders struggle to catch on anywhere and either retire or join a fringe football league before too long. But McBride won’t follow suit.

In fact, if McBride owned a time machine, he probably could’ve been a 2nd- or 3rd-Round pick in the 2013, 2014, or 2015 NFL Drafts. That’s how weird general managers have devolved regarding running backs. If they don’t have a Saquon Barkley or Bijan Robinson pedigree, front offices will “find them later” in the draft.

That’s precisely what McBride is — a draft faller as a byproduct of the pass-happy NFL.

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Will McBride fire up 1,000+ rushing yards as a rookie? No — the Vikings RB room is too crowded for that, even if Cook departs. It’s Mattison, McBride, second-year RB Ty Chandler, and return specialist Kene Nwangwu.

But McBride is only 21 years old. When Mattison’s contract is winding down, McBride will be 23. Chandler will be 26. Cook will be 29 or 30 and playing for another team.

Don’t rush to fantasy football drafts selecting McBride just yet. Based on Adofo-Mensah’s comments, though, and McBride’s college resume, he’ll probably be “the guy” at running back for the Vikings sometime in the next few seasons.

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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