5 Players to Watch for Vikings at the NFL Combine

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The 2023 NFL Combine formally begins this week, and on-the-field activities commence on Thursday.

The Minnesota Vikings have four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, a number that should grow to five after the NFL completes its compensatory-pick adjudication.

5 Players to Watch for Vikings at the NFL Combine

Minnesota must remedy a bottom-tier defense from 2022, an endeavor that will be much easier with the hire of Brian Flores, who replaced defensive coordinator Ed Donatell a few weeks ago. The Vikings could also splash on a WR2 running mate for Justin Jefferson in Round 1 of the draft, so there are oodles of possibilities for the team with the 23rd overall pick.

These are five players to watch for Vikings purposes at this week’s combine.

1. Jordan Addison (USC)

5 Players to
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Position: Wide Receiver

Vikings fans are unsure about longtime wide receiver Adam Thielen’s 2023 status. The man could be retained, outright released, or traded. If one of the latter two options occurs, well, the team needs a WR2 if K.J. Osborn is not deemed “the guy.”

Recent enthusiasm has accumulated for Jordan Addison to the Vikings as the USC playmaker should be a Day One contributor with an NFL offense.

Pro Football Focus mock-drafted Addison to the Vikings two weeks ago.

Addison’s pro comp is DeVonta Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Bryan Bresee (Clemson)

Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (11) warms up before the game with Wake Forest at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022. © Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Position: Defensive Tackle

Minnesota can put its foot down — once and for all — and spend draft capital on the defensive line’s interior. When a Vikings season begins, someone like Shamar Stephen, Armon Watts, or Jonathan Bullard usually plays Bryan Bresee’s spot.

Instead of relying on Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith to “do everything” via rushing the quarterback, the Vikings could draft Bresee to assist.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis mock-drafted Bresee to the Vikings last week.

The knock on Bresee? Compared to his peers, he hasn’t played much football in the last two years due to injury.

3. Trenton Simpson (Clemson)

Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson talks with media during midweek interviews at the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson Tuesday, October 11, 2022. © Ken Ruinard / USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Position: Linebacker

Keep an eye on Trenton Simpson because if the Vikings trade out of the 23rd pick and slide into Round 2, Simpson could be their target.

He’s considered one of the top off-ball linebackers in the draft class and could start immediately for the Vikings next to Eric Kendricks, Brian Asamoah, or unnamed Free Agent X.

PurplePTSD’s Josh Frey wrote about Simpson in January, “Simpson is the most NFL-ready LB in this class, in my opinion, and he’ll be a major injection of speed and ferocious competitiveness at the position.”

4. Cam Smith (South Carolina)

The Early Frontrunner
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Position: Cornerback

This gentleman is arguably the most-mock-drafted player to the Vikings through about two months of the draft process.

Smith fits three draft categories for the 2023 Vikings: a) The Vikings must bolster their CB room this offseason by any means necessary b) Smith might be the best player available at No. 23 c) There’s a decent chance he’s available when the Vikings make the pick.

Smith’s pro comp, according to The Draft Network, is Atlanta Falcons CB A.J. Terrell.

5. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)

22. New York Giants — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State. Syndication The Columbus Dispatch. © Joshua A. Bickel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Position: Wide Receiver

Should the Vikings indeed invest Round 1 draft capital in a wide receiver, Smith-Njigba is the guy desired by fans:

Devin Jackson from the Philadelphia Inquirer envisioned a Vikings union with the Ohio State product earlier this month, “With Justin Jefferson emerging into a star and Adam Thielen aging, the Vikings need another true playmaker at receiver, and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba checks those boxes, especially as a creative and nuanced route runner who operates mostly from the slot.”

Jefferson and Smith-Njigba would formulate a formidable twosome.

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.