The Vikings Mock Draft Odyssey — for Newcomers

A Top CB Prospect Met
Nov 5, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) reacts following a play during the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s draft week, and inevitably some Minnesota Vikings fans are just checking in after a long hangover caused by the team’s home playoff loss to the New York Giants three months ago.

Welcome back — this article is for you.

The Vikings Mock Draft Odyssey — for Newcomers

The 2023 NFL Draft is Thursday night, April 27th, in Kansas City at 7:00 pm CST. The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick and long-term roster needs at cornerback, off-ball linebacker, interior defensive line, and perhaps wide receiver + quarterback.

During your absence — which was understandable after Minnesota collapsed at home against the underwhelming Giants — the mock draft cycle proved topsy-turvy. The following is where we were in February, what happened in March, and the current state of play via mock drafts.

First, It Was CB Cam Smith

Draft Odyssey
Sep 25, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaylan Foster (12) celebrates with defensive back Cam Smith (9). Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports.

The draft community wasted no time lamenting the Vikings playoff loss and moving on. But that’s the nature of the beast.

South Carolina’s Cam Smith was the Vikings draft frontrunner for January and some of February — basically until the guy below fired up a Herculean NFL Combine. With draft season just heating up, Smith was the early odds-on favorite to become a Viking, as many knew the CB room would undergo change.

They weren’t wrong.

Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Cameron Dantzler, Kris Boyd, and Chandon Sullivan left the team, while the Vikings onboarded just two newcomer CBs in Byron Murphy (Cardinals) and Joejuan Williams (Patriots).

ESPN’s Jordan Reid authored an early mock draft in January and explained the Smith-to-Minnesota pick, “General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah showed in his first draft in Minnesota that he values initial quickness, and after the Vikings struggled mightily in pass defense this season (7.8 yards allowed per attempt, 31st in the NFL), they will be seeking defensive backs who show good burst and can make plays on the ball. Smith checks those boxes and has experience in the slot and on the outside.”

Then Came CB Deonte Banks

Dec 30, 2022; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack wide receiver Keyon Lesane (15) reaches for a pass as Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) defends in the fourth quarter in the 2022 Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Smith buzz dissipated, and Banks entered the chat. He’s still a Vikings draft darling for some and could reasonably end up with the club Thursday night.

He scripted a magnificent NFL Combine in February, and that did not hurt his momentum to be selected early in the draft one bit. Banks produced the following marks in Indianapolis:

  • 40-yard: 4.35 (92nd percentile)
  • Vert: 42″ (97th percentile)
  • Broad: 11’4” (98th percentile)

Last month, the aforementioned Reid told Vikings reporter Gabe Henderson, “Deonte Banks from Maryland — he’s one I would put a gold star beside if I was Vikings fans. I think he’s going to be a name you see projected to the Vikings.”


Hooker in the 3rd
Oct 15, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) warms up before the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports.’s Daniel Jeremiah came along on March 21st and thrashed the draft hype machine, mocking Hooker to Minnesota with the 23rd overall pick. Hooker-to-Minnesota didn’t die down and remains a popular Vikings theory.

Jeremiah argued on that March day, “The Vikings have been doing their homework on this quarterback class. Hooker is well-liked around the league and he could sit for a year behind Kirk Cousins before taking over and ushering in a new era for Kevin O’Connell.”

Hooker has the skillset to earn Round 1 draft stock but will be 26 years old by the time the Vikings use him as a QB1 in 2024 — and 27 in his first playoff game if he leads the Vikings to the postseason two seasons from now. He’s also recovering from a torn ACL.

Yet, per draft heads and droves of Vikings fans, he’s the most likely rookie QB to end up in purple and gold. Hooker is probably the most popular pick among the mock draft community right now to join the Vikings.

WRs Sprinkled along the Way

to Meet with
Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) runs the ball against the Utah Utes during the second half in the PAC-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

Last month, Adam Thielen departed the Vikings, joining the Carolina Panthers for guaranteed attention in Frank Reich’s offense. Folks have since debated whether K.J. Osborn is a WR2, and no consensus can be reached.

Therefore, between Jordan Addison (WR), Quentin Johnston (TCU), and Zay Flowers (Boston College), wide receivers have chirped inside Vikings mock drafts since January.

It’s one of the great draft mysteries for Vikings loyalists — will the team choose an Addison, Johnston, or FLowers instead of rolling with Osborn? It did not sign up for a free agent like D.J Chark or Darius Slayton — affordable assets in hindsight — so Osborn, a rookie, or dark-horse Jalen Nailor will become Justin Jefferson’s running mate in September, barring a splashy unforeseen WR trade involving a veteran.

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