Who Will Vikings Draft? The 5 Frontrunners.
The Minnesota Vikings have long-term roster needs at cornerback, off-ball linebacker, wide receiver, interior defensive line, and arguably quarterback.
The club is slated for five picks during the 2023 NFL Draft next week and chooses first at No. 23 on Thursday night.
Who Will Vikings Draft? The 5 Frontrunners.
A collection of our writers have ranked the five likeliest rookies to land with the Vikings, whether through a trade up, trade down, or standstill at No. 23.
These are those, ranked in ascending order of likelihood (No. 1 = most likely).
5. Bryan Bresee (DT)
A mean interior defensive lineman, Bresee would fill a long-term roster need often ignored by the Vikings since 2013. Ten years ago, the club drafted Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle who looked really promising out of the gate. But then his career was utterly derailed by injury, and he was gone from the NFL by 2016.
Since then, the Vikings have employed men like Shamar Stephen, Armon Watts, and Jonathan Bullard at Floyd’s position.
If they signed on Bresee’s dotted line, pairing the Clemson alumnus with Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport for the foreseeable future upfront doesn’t sound too bad defensively.
Too, Bresee will probably be available if Minnesota trades back a few spots in Round 1.
4. Jordan Addison (WR)
Addison could be considered the odds-on favorite to become a Viking next Thursday night, especially if the team stays put at pick No. 23.
Theorized as the second-best wide receiver in this class after Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Addison should be a Day One starter next to Justin Jefferson in 2023. He’s small — 5’11” and 175 pounds — but Addison is somehow a workhorse wideout who could come in handy if Jefferson ever misses a game.
Imagine if Jefferson missed more than a game or two in 2023. Minnesota would pivot to K.J. Osborn, Jalen Nailor, and Jalen Reagor — and hope for the best. Addison hedges the bet.
3. Brian Branch (S/CB)
In February, the Vikings hired Brian Flores as the 2023 defensive coordinator, and he loves men from the Crimson Tide. On his watch as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Flores’ team drafted five players from Alabama in Round 1 or 2 in three years. That’s a lot.
Branch is a hybrid type who can also play cornerback, and Minnesota might still need help at CB. Plus, Harrison Smith won’t play too much longer, and life after Smith could involve Lewis Cine and Brian Branch — a combo that sounds delectable at the moment.
2. Deonte Banks (CB)
The aforementioned Flores loves big and physical corners who can play press coverage. Banks is precisely that.
Like Addison, Banks could be available to Minnesota at the 23rd pick but not too much further down the draftboard. The CB draft order will likely play out as Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Devon Witherspoon (Illinois), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State), and then Banks.
The Vikings may love their existing CB room, but Banks should be the pick if they do not.
1. Quentin Johnston (WR)
Our writers, alas, settled on Johnson, another wide receiver, as Minnesota’s most likely draft choice with their first pick of the event.
He’s big, fast, and young. At 21 years old, partnering Johnston with Jefferson for the next five years could work wonders in O’Connell’s pass-happy offense. And those two would feast in addition to tight end T.J. Hockenson, so we’re talking weapons galore for the 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027 Minnesota Vikings. Oofta.
Johnston was supposed to be a Top-12-or-so pick in early February, but when general managers learned he’s not quite 6’4″ as was initially forecasted, some backed off.
That could create a tumble all the way to the Vikings pick, enabling an era of JJ, T.J., K.J., and QJ in Minnesota.
The Final 15:
6. Joey Porter (CB)
7. Mazi Smith (DT)
8. Zay Flowers (WR)
9. Cam Smith (CB)
10. Kelee Ringo (CB)
11. Hendon Hooker (QB)
12. Emmanuel Forbes (CB)
13. Calijah Kancey (DT)
14. Drew Sanders (LB)
15. Will Levis (QB)
16. Myles Murphy (EDGE)
17. Keion White (EDGE)
18. Trenton Simpson (LB)
19. Anthony Richardson (QB)
20. Jack Campbell (LB)
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.
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