Vikings Add Another LSU Tiger

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On Thursday and Friday, the Minnesota Vikings added WR Jordan Addison and CB Mekhi Blackmon from USC.

Fast forward to Saturday, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wasn’t finished tapping big schools for rookies, this time drafting safety Jay Ward from LSU.

Vikings Add Another LSU Tiger

Ward is a hybrid type who can also play cornerback and could be on deck for slot assignments in 2023 and 2024.

Add Another LSU
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Before the Ward selection, Adofo-Mensah possessed the 119th pick in Round 4 but traded back with the Kansas City Chiefs, stockpiling the ticket that would draft Ward at No. 134 and an additional 5th-Round pick in 2024. The Chiefs selected safety Chamarri Conner from Virginia Tech.

Ward is known for his motor, on-the-field awareness, and positional flexibility. He’s 6’1″ and 188 pounds, posting a 4.55 forty-yard dash at the 2023 NFL Combine.

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Regarding his depth chart placement, the next four months will be used by fans to determine if Ward nestles in as a safety, cornerback, or true crossover between positions. Minnesota hired Brian Flores in February as the new defensive coordinator, replacing one-year skipper Ed Donatell, and Flores adores players who can “do both” in the secondary.

Ward was listed as a 4th-Round value by most credible draft pundits, so he was drafted right where expected.

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The Draft Network‘s Keith Sanchez described Ward during the build-up to the event, “Although Ward is a former cornerback, against the run from the safety position he has a physical presence in that he makes full-speed collisions with ball carriers. Ward does a good job of closing from distance to make plays at or near the line scrimmage.”

“Ward also does a good job of disputing quick plays like screens by quickly shedding blockers and getting to the ball carrier. Ward plays with a physical presence that outweighs his actual size and body profile,” Sanchez added.

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These are the Vikings current safeties after the Ward pick:

S1: Harrison Smith
S2: Lewis Cine
S3: Camryn Bynum
S4: Josh Metellus
S5: Theo Jackson
S6: Jay Ward

The Vikings defense ranked 31st in yards allowed in 2022 despite a 13-4 record. Defense was at the forefront of offseason priorities, and the club has drafted defensively with two of its first three picks.

Ward will turn 23 in July.

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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