The Vikings Biggest Winner from Draft

Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson (24) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) during the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings added six new players in the 2023 NFL Draft, headlining the event with the 1st-Round selection of wide receiver Jordan Addison from USC.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could’ve traveled about 10 different avenues with the first pick between various positions and staying put, trading up, or trading down.

The Vikings Biggest Winner from Draft

This is was the Vikings 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)

And based on that six-person list, one existing Vikings member was the undisputed ‘winner’ of the three-day festivity — linebacker Brian Asamoah.

Biggest Winner
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) in action against the Detroit Lions during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Asamoah was tentatively scheduled for a starter’s duty in 2023, his second campaign in the pros. After the draft, it seems, almost by default, the Oklahoma alumnus is the next man up in Brian Flores’ new defense.

The Vikings drafted no linebackers in all seven rounds, passing on opportunities to select would-be day-one starters like Jack Campbell, Drew Sanders, and Trenton Simpson. Of course, Minnesota drafting a linebacker at No.23 might’ve been goofy, but trading down and grabbing Sanders or Simpson instead of Addison could’ve been a reasonable action plan,

It's Officially Brian Asamoah Time
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) leaps over the celebration pile late during the fourth quarter after an interception by safety Camryn Bynum (24) off New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) sealed the victory at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Following the draft and before exploring any possible free-agent linebackers, this is the team’s LB corps, including Troy Reeder, a veteran newcomer:

  • LB1: Jordan Hicks
  • LB2: Brian Asamoah
  • LB3: Troy Reeder
  • LB4: Troy Dye
  • LB5: William Kwenkeu
  • LB6: Ivan Pace
  • LB7: Abraham Beauplan
  • LB8: Wilson Huber

The group feels reduced or diminished because long-time Viking Eric Kendricks left for the Los Angeles Chargers in March, a franchise adjacent to his college stomping grounds at UCLA. Kendricks will start in Los Angeles while the Vikings mitigate life without him for the first time since 2014. Kendricks was an honest-to-goodness cap casualty who wasn’t quite worth his sizable pricetag on the 2023 iteration of the Vikings.

Promising Vikings Rookie Finally Gets His Chance in Week 15
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah (33) reacts after making a stop during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Asamoah didn’t play much as a rookie — 119 defensive snaps — but when he did, he emulated a cannon intent on mayhem. He forced a memorable fumble and scooped it for recovery at the white-out game versus the New York Giants. Minnesota won via walk-off field goal, and Asamoah’s turnover was a substantial reason why. He also contributed on 285 special teams plays alongside Josh Metellus and Kris Boyd as keynote performers.

The 23-year-old appears headed on a pathway to start in September unless Troy Reeder or undrafted free agent Ivan Pace adamantly disagree. Otherwise, veteran linebackers like Kyle Van Noy (Chargers), Deion Jones (Browns), Kwon Alexander (Jets), and Myles Jack (Steelers) remain available in free agency.

But it’s likely the Asamoah experience, as Adofo-Mensah would’ve signed a free agent by now. The draft confirmed it.

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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