8 ‘Draft Crushes’ for the 2023 Vikings

Joey Porter Jr.

VikingsTerritory writers were asked to provide one ‘draft crush’ with the NFL Draft less than 90 days away.

The franchise lost to the New York Giants in the playoff two weeks ago, leaving the postseason tournament prematurely after winning the NFC North by an impressive margin. Accordingly, a change-filled offseason is afoot, and VikingsTerritory writers have prognostications and hopes for the draft.

8 ‘Draft Crushes’ for the 2023 Vikings

Nine VikingsTerritory writers weighed with their eight current draft crushes.

1. Bijan Robinson, RB (Texas)

Draft Crushes
Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson takes a photo with band member Giorgy Ruiz before the Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022 in San Antonio. © Aaron E. Martinez / American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Adam New

Obviously, what the Vikings need is a star running back — says no one, but hear me out.

The Vikings defense isn’t going to be fixed by one late first-round pick. Every cent made available for free agency needs to go into the defensive side of the ball. Then — draft the best player available on draft day.

It’s a big if, but if Texas RB Bijan Robinson slides down the board and into the Vikings lap at the 23rd pick, they must take him. Robinson is a Top 5 talent in this draft. Robinson can do it all as a runner, receiver, and blocker in the passing game. He’s drawn comparisons to a tougher, more elusive Saquon Barkley.

2. Max Melton, CB (Rutgers)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

The Vikings need a cornerback. Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, and Chandon Sullivan are all free agents. The jury is still out on Andrew Booth Jr. Cameron Dantzler could be a good CB2 throughout his career. A #1? Not very likely.

Melton’s speed makes him intriguing.

3. Bryan Bresee, DT (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.

Prediction Maker = Dustin Baker

The Vikings always skimp at defensive tackle, so it’s time for that to stop.

“Draft crush” is applied here loosely because Bresee is unlikely to be available at the Vikings No. 23 pick. However, stranger things have happened than a man slipping down the draft board, especially predicting draft placement three months away from the event.

Let’s be done with Shamar Stephens and Jonathan Bullards and knock this interior DL thing out of the park.

4. Devon Witherspoon, CB (Illinois)

Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson runs for a second-half first down past Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in Cleveland. © Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

The Vikings desperately need some stability at the cornerback position.

Witherspoon was an elite coverage cornerback in his final college season and allowed a ridiculous passer rating of 24.6 in his final season. The defensive back has top-notch speed and length, plus he excels in man coverage. He can be the starting cornerback of the Vikings in Week 1.

5. Christian Gonzalez, CB (Oregon)

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) flips the ball to Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine (34) in the first quarter during a Week 15 NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

I’m not sure he’ll still be there at No. 23, but Gonzalez looked the part of a shutdown corner at Colorado before transferring to Oregon. He put up solid numbers with the Ducks defense and could be a solid outside defender for a Vikings defense sorely needing such players.

6. Kelee Ringo, CB (Georgia)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports,

Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Right off the top, I’ll say that my knowledge of draft prospects is exceedingly small. I’m only just beginning to learn about this year’s group. That said, a couple of names have jumped out: CB Kelee Ringo (who reminds me of Xavier Rhodes) and LB Trenton Simpson.

I suppose I’d lean toward Ringo simply due to his position if both were an option. Learning more about the edge rushers, though, might persuade me to switch around my opinion (the Vikings should collect pass rushers like their defensive life depends on it).

For the most part, this year’s upcoming draftees remain shrouded in mystery, so I’ll say Ringo even as I acknowledge my inability to come up with an ironclad opinion.

7. Trenton Simpson, LB (Clemson)

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Josh Frey

The Vikings have needs all over the defense, but they especially need young talent at the off-ball linebacker spots. 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.

The only question is — will he last on the board long enough to make it to 23.

t8. Joey Porter Jr., CB (Penn State)

Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) questions a call during Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 30, 2021. © Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

Right now, my draft crush is Joey Porter, Jr. He fits possibly the Vikings biggest need while being the son of a former player I used to watch.

Nostalgia rules right now for me as I’ve just begun to dip my toes into draft season.

t8. Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Mitch Massman

After running multiple simulations using Pro Football Network and PFF, CB Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State is repeatedly available.

This is the guy.

The Vikings played so much off-coverage in 2022. Porter changes that as he is tall, lengthy, and 200 pounds. He has the traits necessary to get up and press WRs in the NFL.

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.