Vikings Made a Huge Mistake in the 2022 Draft
General managers are always judged by their success in the draft. Former GM Rick Spielman had too many misses in the second half of his tenure. The best defensive players drafted by Spielman after his outstanding 2015 draft class were guys like Cameron Dantzler, Camryn Bynum, and Ifeadi Odenigbo. The trio, and many more, are solid backups or spot starters but not high-end players. Those misses are why the defense has struggled in the last few years.
That, in addition to some internal feuds, directly led to him leaving the organization after the 2021 season. The Vikings hired former Wall Street trader Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to replace him, but his first draft class was underwhelming.
Vikings Made a Huge Mistake in the 2022 Draft
The early results of Adofo-Mensah’s first rookie haul in charge aren’t looking good. First-rounder Lewis Cine missed most of the year with a broken leg suffered in Week 4 in London against the Saints. He had to watch his team struggle defensively, an area where he might have been able to help if he had been healthy.
Second-round selection Andrew Booth missed parts of the season with a hamstring injury, and later in the season, the Vikings had to shut him down with a meniscus injury. Just like Cine, he could’ve helped the struggling defensive backfield.
Fellow cornerback Akayleb Evans had an impressive outing against the Commanders when he went up against their top receiver, Terry McLaurin, but the Vikings placed him on IR after suffering a couple of concussions.
Rookie guard Ed Ingram played every snap, but his performance didn’t match the second-round draft position. At least he was on the field. Linebacker Brian Asamoah showed flashes and will likely be the starter in 2023, replacing the departed veteran Eric Kendricks. Late-round receiver Jalen Nailor also showed flashes as a rookie, and he might be one of the reasons why the Vikings haven’t added a new receiver to the group other than returner Brandon Powell.
It’s still early in the process. Bad injury luck didn’t play in Adofo-Mensah’s favor. The draft class should get at least another season before an evaluation is possible.
The most significant mistake the Vikings made, however, wasn’t the player selections — but the trades. Trading back was a decent move to secure more draft capital, but Adofo-Mensah made a crucial blunder in that process. He traded down 20 spots, all the way from the 12th overall pick to the 32nd pick, without securing the rights of a future first-round pick.
The problem? That is exactly what the Vikings need now to draft the future franchise quarterback. Minnesota has only five draft picks and no second-rounder. A trade-up into the range where the top QBs in the draft are expected to go is almost impossible because it would take three first-rounders, and even that might not be enough because other QB-needy teams pick earlier and could trade up with their better pick. The story would be totally different, with an additional first-round selection acquired last April.
Kirk Cousins is entering the final year of his contract because the Vikings didn’t extend the deal. He will turn 35 in August, and the organization is rightfully looking to bring in his successor.
The Vikings will be on the clock with the 23rd overall pick, which is likely too late to get a passer of the caliber of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud.
Because they aren’t in the running for the universally-viewed top tier of the two aforementioned QBs, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis, the team has to settle for a quarterback viewed worse than them. Hendon Hooker to the Vikings is an often talked about scenario by various draft pundits. The majority of Vikings fans are not happy with that idea.
Hooker is one alternative. Another one is to wait until next season, but that rookie pick won’t have the luxury to sit behind Cousins for a season. One more problem is that next year’s pick isn’t guaranteed to be any better. The Vikings could very well be a playoff team again.
The Vikings leadership could also opt to take a stab at a later-round QB, but they said in the past that they don’t want a guy. They want the guy — not random players. Teams rarely find someone late in the draft at that position. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Tanner McKee, Jaren Hall, and Clayton Tune want to beat the odds.
Minnesota owns the 23rd pick, and the team has many needs leading up to the season. Upgrades at cornerback, wide receiver, and across the defensive line are required. Adofo-Mensah must make sure to hit his five picks. Trading down again to get a few more picks is a likely scenario.
Finding the next quarterback is the most critical task of the regime installed last offseason. Not getting a future first-rounder in return didn’t make that hard mission any easier.
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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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