The Vikings Unsung Move of the Offseason

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 have conducted a busy offseason, hoping to maintain the standard of an NFC North title won by first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell in 2022.

The Vikings Unsung Move of the Offseason

The club watched as 10 players departed for new teams, including Cameron Dantzler (CB, Free Agent), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), Duke Shelley (CB, Raiders), Irv Smith (TE, Bengals), Kris Boyd (CB, Cardinals), Chandon Sullivan (CB, Steelers), and Za’Darius Smith (OLB, Browns — Trade).

Meanwhile, eight newcomer free agents joined the Vikings since the start of March: Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), Brandon Powell (WR, Rams), Troy Reeder (LB, Chargers), Joejuan Williams (CB, Patriots), and John Reid (CB, Falcons).

But according to Pro Football Focus, the ‘unsung’ move of the offseason arrived in the 2023 NFL Draft when general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah scooped cornerback Mekhi Blackmon out of Round 3.

Unsung Move of the
Nov 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans defensive back Mekhi Blackmon (6) and linebacker Raesjon Davis (9) celebrate during the second half against the California Golden Bears at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports.

Overall, PFF afforded the Vikings a ‘B+’ offseason grade and tabbed Blackmon as the unsung addition. PFF’s Josh Liskiewitz explained, “Considering how disastrous the Vikings’ secondary was last season, Blackmon could be an immediate contributor as a rookie. He transferred to USC from Colorado in 2022 and blossomed into an elite coverage player.”

Blackmon was teammates at USC with Vikings 1st-Round wide receiver Jordan Addison.

“He allowed just a 43.1% completion percentage into his coverage and forced 17 total incompletions while picking off three other passes,” Liskiewitz concluded about Blackmon.

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.

Because the Vikings have just one bonafide starter at cornerback, free-agent Byron Murphy from the Arizona Cardinals, Blackmon will have an honest-to-goodness chance to win a starter’s job this summer. He joins Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, and Joejuan Williams as Vikings defenders vying for CB2 and CB3 gigs in September.

Blackmon played 14 games at USC in 2022 and four seasons at Colorado before that. He tabulated 3 interceptions as a Trojan last year, with 66 total tackles. He is not a huge cornerback, and that’s probably the primary reason for his mid-to-late-round draft stock.

Nov 19, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Jake Bobo (9) is hit out of bounds by Southern California Trojans defensive back Mekhi Blackmon (6) during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

The rookie defender is ultra-excited to wear purple and gold clothing in the NFL, too. He said about the draft and his association with the Vikings in May, “I was waiting all night. I thought it was going to come earlier, but you guys traded back. I kind of anticipated I was probably going to come to you guys — just praying and wishing I would.”

“I took my visit out there, and I fell in love with the facilities and the coaching staff, so I was hoping I would land in Minnesota,” Blackmon concluded.

The Vikings finish organized team activities in the next two weeks before mandatory minicamp kicks off on June 13th. We shall see if Blackmon is truly unsung.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by