5 Vikings Takeaways from the 2023 NFL Draft

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The Minnesota Vikings watched as eight veterans departed the organization this offseason, seven veterans came aboard, six rookies were drafted, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added 15 undrafted free agents.

The team finished 13-4 in 2022 and will hope to maintain the winning standard and possibly win the NFC North in back-to-back years, especially after Aaron Rodgers left the Green Bay Packers for the New York Jets.

5 Vikings Takeaways from the 2023 NFL Draft

In the draft, Minnesota added these players:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

And these are the five major takeaways from the draft, ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

5. College Camaraderie

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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah fired up the double-dip with his first four picks — two men from USC and then two more from LSU. The young executive has always had a draft fascination with big schools, at least through two drafts, and the trend continued in 2023.

Naturally, Jordan Addison and Mekhi Blackmon were teammates as Trojans, and in fact, both share the same height and weight parameters. Spooky, eh? Jay Ward and Jaquelin Roy absolutely do not share physical commonalities, but they were teammates on the same LSU defense.

Oh, and Adofo-Mensah evidently enjoys acronym schools — USC, USC, LSU, LSU, BYU, and UAB.

4. The LBs Need Not Have “Big Names”

Vikings 8 New
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These are the Vikings current linebackers:

  • LB1: Jordan Hicks
  • LB2: Brian Asamoah
  • LB3: Troy Reeder
  • LB4: Troy Dye
  • LB5: William Kwenkeu
  • LB6: Ivan Pace
  • LB7: Abraham Beauplan
  • LB8: Wilson Huber

Before you panic, new defensive coordinator Brian Flores is a linebackers coach, so this group must be hunky dory in his estimation.

Still, the Vikings defense was defined for seven years by big-name LBs in Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Until someone new blossoms, it’s the Hicks and Asamoah show.

Minnesota could’ve prioritized Trenton Simpson, Jack Campbell, or Drew Sanders in the draft, but they did not. Compared to the rest of the NFL, the linebacking corps is somewhat anonymous.

3. This Is an Offense-First Enterprise

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. | Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Mentioned above, with the Barr + Kendricks era of Vikings football, a new twist was confirmed this weekend. The Vikings, under an offense-first head coach in Kevin O’Connell, are very much an offense-first team. Whoodathunkit?

Minnesota has a golden opportunity to draft cornerbacks Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks — and passed. Instead, they became filthy rich in the WR room by adding Addison. In the event Brian Flores doesn’t transform the defense with the snap of two fingers, the Vikings will be a “let’s play a shootout, fellas” team.

2. Dalvin Cook’s Days Probably Numbered

from the 2023 NFL
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The subject of trade and release rumors for nearly two months, the writing is on the wall about a Cook departure. Drafting DeWayne McBride was the second final nail in the Cook coffin, with the first as Alexander Mattison’s extension in March.

Unless Cook accepts a paycut — unlikely — he’ll be traded or released in the next five weeks. If that doesn’t happen, what are the Vikings going to do with Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, and Kene Nwangwu? Too many cooks in the — never mind.

1. The Almighty Lottery Ticket in Jaren Hall

49ers Trade Turned
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After incessant speculation that Minnesota would trade up the draftboard and select Anthony Richardson or C.J. Stroud with a king’s-ransom deal, they did no such thing and even passed on Will Levis at pick No. 23.

As a compromise, Hall joined the roster in Round 5, a burial ground for rookie quarterback prospects. His tape and numbers are exciting, though, and if Hall is better than Kellen Mond, he could experience a QB1 audition when Kirk Cousins leaves.

Hall’s college footage will excite you, and that’s about all fans need via clinging to something this season while envisioning life after Cousins.

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.