Vikings Made 1 Emphatic Statement in Draft

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Kevin O'Connell

The Minnesota Vikings had one foremost and clear choice in the 2023 NFL Draft — either spend the first pick of the event on offense or defense.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell chose the former. And in the moment he chose Jordan Addison, a wide receiver, with this most precious bite of draft capital, the Vikings were formally rebranded as an offense-first organization.

Vikings Made 1 Emphatic Statement in Draft

Minnesota now has the firepower to score 30 points per game in 2023 while hoping to contain the other team to 29 points. Of course, defensive coordinator Brian Flores will aspire to reduce the 29-points-per-game theory substantially, but we shall see, as defenders Davlin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, and Duke Shelley all vamoosed this offseason.

Emphatic Statement
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports..

Why was the Addison choice such a foundational hinge? Simple — the Vikings arguably need cornerback help, but the front office pounded the button for a wide receiver. In a pinch, the pre-draft WR room consisting of Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Nailor, and Jalen Reagor might’ve made the offense tick. Sprinkle T.J. Hockenson in at tight end, and that arsenal could’ve been formidable.

Penn State’s Joey Porter and Maryland’s Deonte Banks, two cornerbacks, were staring Adofo-Mensah in the face at pick No. 23. Both will be productive in the NFL, barring significant injury. Nothing from the draft is a sure thing, but Porter and Banks damn near nibbled at those adjectives.

Vikings Made 1 Emphathic Statement in Draft
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

No cigar, though, as the Vikings management effectively implied with its actions, “We do offense around here. We leave that defense thing to Brian.”

Not for nothing — Addison, the newcomer, sounds ultra-excited about joining the Vikings blossoming offense-first operation. He told reporters after the draft, “It was crazy because this was my last 30-day visit. The last time I was on a visit, I was here, and they told me if I’m on that board, they’re going to grab me. Once Minnesota came up, I just kept checking my phone. The last two minutes came down, and they called me. Just excited for that.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. | Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

He’s excited to be in Minnesota, the Vikings are stoked to have him, and like the mid-2000s, the franchise will pray the defense can sometimes mirror the offensive production.

Overall, this should surprise no one. Minnesota spent eight years with a defensive coach in Mike Zimmer, reaching an apex of an NFC Championship disembowelment. The pendulum swung back to the Mike Tice and Brad Childress eras when an “offense guy” in O’Connell was hired.

And here we are — drafting flashy wide receivers to pair with flashy wide receivers in a pass-happy NFL.

The Vikings felt like an offense-first enterprise in 2022 because the defense was so lousy. Now, through one single draft selection, the billboard reads O F F E N S E.

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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