What We DIDN’T Learn from the Vikings Draft
The Minnesota Vikings drafted six rookies last Thursday through Saturday, marking general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s second class of youngsters in as many years on the job.
These players arrived the roster from the draft:
- 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)
What We DIDN’T Learn from the Vikings Draft
Hours later — if not minutes — Adofo-Mensah began signing undrafted free agents, leading to this impressive haul:
- Alan Ali (OL, TCU)
- Calvin Avery (DT, Illinois)
- Abraham Beauplan (ILB, Marshall)
- Andre Carter II (EDGE, Army)
- Jacky Chen (OL, Pace)
- C.J. Coldon (CB, Oklahoma)
- Wilson Huber (ILB, Cincinnati)
- Cephus Johnson (WR, SE Louisiana)
- Malik Knowles (WR, Kansas State)
- Ivan Pace, Jr. (ILB, Cincinnati)
- Jack Podlesny (K, Georgia)
- Ben Sims (TE, Baylor)
- Thayer Thomas (WR, N.C. State)
- NaJee Thompson (CB, Georgia Southern)
- Jaylin Williams (CB, Indiana)
Indeed, onlookers learned a lot about the 2023 Vikings in those three days, but here’s what was not learned.
1. This Must “Be It” for Linebackers
The Brief Takeaway: The Vikings will have no big-name LBs — now or in the long-term pipeline.
Minnesota lived in accommodating draft territory to leave Kansas City with Trenton Simpson (Ravens), Jack Campbell (Lions), or Drew Sanders (Broncos) on its roster. Those three were the draft’s “big names” at linebacker, and the Vikings possessed a long-term roster need at the position.
Or so we thought.
Adofo-Mensah drafted zero linebackers, signaling a starting twosome of Brian Asamoah and Jordan Hicks in September. Vikings fans will know those men intimately, but the duo is somewhat anonymous to an NFL audience.
And that’s apparently okay in Brian Flores’ defense. Perhaps the UDFA Ivan Pace Jr. will shock the world by landing a starter’s job.
2. Dalvin Cook + Za’Darius Smith’s Future
The Brief Takeaway: Cook and Smith were not traded. They’re still on the team.
The Vikings needed draft capital last weekend, and many believed trading Dalvin Cook or Za’Darius Smith was on the way. No cigar.
Cook and Smith remain on the Vikings roster through early May, perhaps with end dates around June 1st, when the penalty to sever ties is financially less burdensome for Minnesota.
However, until then — so, 29 days — Cook and Smith remain in a familiar place for Vikings. That’s total limbo. Maybe both will change their minds and return to the Vikings. Perhaps one splits, and the other stays. Or they can both depart.
No mystery whatsoever was resolved via Cook and Smith’s roster standing during the draft.
3. Life after Kirk Cousins Is Less Clear
The Brief Takeaway: The Vikings did not land an early-round successor to Kirk Cousins.
Now — or last weekend — was the time to draft a Will Levis or Hendon Hooker to prepare for life after Kirk Cousins. The 34-year-old Cousins isn’t under contract with the Vikings beyond 2023. For now, on paper, 2023 is final season in purple and gold. If nothing new happens, he’ll hit free agency in March and probably sign with the San Francisco 49ers.
Levis fell into the Vikings lap at pick No. 23. Through non-action, they said no thanks to Levis. Additionally, Hooker fell out of Round 1, and if the Vikings really wanted the Tennessee Volunteer, they could’ve obtained him cheap, or at least at a price paling in comparison to Anthony Richardson or C.J. Stroud.
Instead, Minnesota took a scratch-off flyer on Jaren Hall from BYU. He’s a 5th-Rounder, and those rarely pan out. Everyone points to Tom Brady as an example, but he’s essentially one out of hundreds that worked.
The Vikings are still very much Cousins’ team. Had they selected Levis or Hooker, the lay of the land would be markedly different.
But they did not.
Former Viking Quietly Slipped into AFC East
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.
You must be logged in to post a comment.