Vikings Quietly Acquired 2nd Player in the Hockenson Trade

Only 2 Options
Feb 4, 2023; Paradise, NV, USA; NFC tight end T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings (87) during practice at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was hired by the Vikings last year in January, and fans weren’t sure what they would get. He is a former Wall Street trader without other GMs’ football expertise. 49ers GM John Lynch is a Hall of Famer as a player; Adofo-Mensah doesn’t have any comparable football accolades.

However, he is a brilliant person who doesn’t mind taking risks. He traded within the division in his first draft, not only once but twice. He also swung big for some players, like when he added T.J. Hockenson to the roster in a trade with the Lions after Irv Smith Jr. went down. Many expected the addition of a tight end at that time, but to get one of the best in the business was unexpected.

Vikings Quietly Acquired 2nd Player in the Hockenson Trade

Vikings Quietly Acquired a Second Player in the Hockenson Trade
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings received the explosive tight end, a 2023 fourth-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick while giving up the 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder.

Of course, the big ticket in that trade package was Hockenson. He had a wonderful impact on the Vikings’ offense. Hockenson fired up 70 catches for 648 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns in 11 games, one of them was the meaningless Week 18 game in Chicago.

In the other ten meaningful contests, Hockenson had 63.2 yards per game, which would rank him second among tight ends only behind Travis Kelce in the last three seasons, tied with Mark Andrews but in front of George Kittle.

The tight end quietly became the second option in the passing game, only having to give targets to the Offensive Player of the Year, Justin Jefferson. His role might even grow in the second season in the Vikings’ offense after having a full offseason with the team for the first time.

Oct 9, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (1) runs the ball against LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) during the second quarter at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

The second piece of the Vikings’ haul in that trade, the fourth-round pick, was just used in the draft. Minnesota held pick 119 but traded down 15 spots with the Chiefs, gaining an additional 2024 fifth-rounder in the process.

With the resulting 134th pick, the Vikings selected Jay Ward, a defensive back out of LSU. He is a Swiss army knife, playing safety, cornerback, in the slot, and sometimes even as a linebacker. Ward doesn’t have a home but was announced as a safety. His best chance to see the field is for the departed Chandon Sullivan, who once again teamed up with Patrick Peterson.

Jan 4, 2022; Houston, TX, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) runs onto the field before playing against the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports.

Ward has decent size for a nickel CB at 6-1 and 188 pounds. He also posted excellent ten-yard splits in his 40-yard dash, which shows his explosiveness. That, paired with aggressiveness and versatility, he is built for a Brian Flores coordinated defense. Ward can blitz and is good at run support, both important feats for a slot cornerback.

Minnesota doesn’t have anyone with slot experience on the team other than Ward. They would have to teach the position to one of their young guys, Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, or Mekhi Blackmon. However, they are in competition to win the second outside starting job, and that would take them out of that race.

He is an absolute dude. He’s the guy who people listened to on that defense. Worst-case scenario, he will be a great special teams guy.

An anonymous regional scout told Lance Zierlein from NFL.com

The defensive back will immediately be a good addition to the special teams and has good leadership skills.

Sep 10, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) scrambles with the ball away from Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman John Morgan III (6) during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Detroit used the Vikings’ second-round pick, traded down twice, and selected Hendon Hooker with the 68th pick. Hooker was a prominent mock draft candidate for the Vikings at spot 23. The team ended up drafting Jordan Addison in the first round. If Hooker becomes a franchise QB for the Lions, they will be delighted with the trade. If he is a backup, they might regret giving a division rival a dangerous weapon.

Regardless, the purple team got a top player out of the trade for the cost of a second-round pick. They will be happy either way.


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

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