Did Vikings Draft Feel Weird? Here’s Why.

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Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah conducted [what seems like] a successful NFL draft last week, welcoming a balanced batch of offensive and defensive players to the roster from Thursday to Saturday.

Hours after the event, Adofo-Mensah sprinted to phone lines, landing an additional 15 undrafted free agents — some with beefy names and intriguing stakes attached.

Did Vikings Draft Feel Weird? Here’s Why.

Here is the Vikings 2023 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 the UDFAs:

  • Alan Ali (OL, TCU)
  • Calvin Avery (DT, Illinois)
  • Abraham Beauplan (ILB, Marshall)
  • Andre Carter II (EDGE, Army)
  • Jacky Chen (OL, Pace)
  • C.J. Coldon (CB, Oklahoma)
  • Wilson Huber (ILB, Cincinnati)
  • Cephus Johnson (WR, SE Louisiana)
  • Malik Knowles (WR, Kansas State)
  • Ivan Pace, Jr. (ILB, Cincinnati)
  • Jack Podlesny (K, Georgia)
  • Ben Sims (TE, Baylor)
  • Thayer Thomas (WR, N.C. State)
  • NaJee Thompson (CB, Georgia Southern)
  • Jaylin Williams (CB, Indiana)
Lottery Ticket QB
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But in the aftermath of the draft, ask yourself, the Vikings fan — did this batch of rookies feel a bit odd? It should’ve. The 2023 NFL Draft was the first time in Vikings history that no offensive linemen nor linebackers joined the club. Of course, Adofo-Mensah found some undrafted commodities at those positions, but during seven rounds of the grand rookie party in Kansas City, the franchise drafted zero offensive linemen and zero linebackers.

That’s never happened.

The Bradbury Update
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And on the offensive line front, this year’s draft was the first in 16 years that the Vikings didn’t draft a single offensive lineman. Normally in a Vikings offseason, fans scream to high heavens the offensive trenches need help — or total repair — but 2023 is a bit different.

For the first time in ages, Minnesota will boast offensive line continuity, welcoming back, from left to right, Christian Darrisaw (LT), Ezra Cleveland (LG), Garrett Bradbury (C), Ed Ingram (RG), and Brian O’Neill (RT). The Vikings generally put themselves in a spot, around this time on the calendar, pondering guard solutions with a converted tackle, down-on-his-luck veteran, or some other underwhelming choice. But this year is different, as Kevin O’Connell and his coaching staff evidently trust the current fivesome.

Vikings Viewed in Same
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On linebackers, well, Eric Kendricks was released and landed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Barring injury, Kendricks will start in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Vikings retained veteran LB Jordan Hicks and seem poised to promote last year’s rookie Brian Asamoah from Oklahoma.

If Hicks and Asamoah are not the plan at linebacker, the team probably would’ve pursued a free agent like T.J. Edwards (Chicago Bears), kept Kendricks, or drafted Trenton Simpson (Baltimore Ravens), Jack Campbell (Detroit Lions), or Drew Sanders (Denver Broncos).

The lesson? Sixty-two former iterations of Vikings front offices selected at least one offensive lineman or linebacker during a draft. This group did not, implying they “like what they have.”

Vikings mandatory minicamp kicks off June 13th.

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).

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