5 Things We Learned about Vikings from the Draft So Far

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have two nights of the 2023 NFL Draft in the books, selecting two players from USC — WR Jordan Addison and CB Mekhi Blackmon.

Because of a trade with the San Francisco 49ers, the Vikings have a total of five picks on Saturday, the final day of the event.

5 Things We Learned about Vikings from the Draft So Far

And while the draft has four more rounds to go, here’s what can be learned so far, ranked in order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

5. Limited Draft Picks a Harsh Reality

Learned about the Vikings
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah who was hired in January 2022 after the club parted ways with Rick Spielman. The Vikings finished 13-4 in Adofo-Mensah’s first season as general manager.

An absolutely dazzling 2nd-Round prospect was waiting for 32 NFL teams to pounce on Friday with the very first pick of the evening, and there’s nothing the Vikings could do about it.

His name is Joey Porter Jr., he should’ve been chosen in Round 1, and now he plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Plain and simple — Minnesota doesn’t have much navigability in the draft with extra capital because it already spent some of this year’s picks on T.J. Hockenson, Akayleb Evans, Jalen Reagor, and Ross Blacklock. Fair enough, especially for Hockenson.

When asked about the possibility of selecting a quarterback in this draft, head coach Kevin O’Connell replied Friday night, “As I evaluated the whole class for this year, there was a lot to be excited about. That goes for what lies ahead for what potentially could be there. We don’t have a ton of picks. We need to be aware of — regardless of the position we take — we’ve got to have a real plan for how that player will impact our team this year and moving forward.”

This was not the draft to make large splashes via trade-up because the picks were accounted for with the aforementioned veterans.

4. The OL Must Be in Good Shape

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The Vikings likely were not going to take an offensive lineman in Round 1, no matter what. But they could’ve used Friday’s 3rd-Rounder on an interior offensive lineman.

They did not.

The team’s offensive trenches improved in Year 1 with O’Connell in charge but still weren’t elite or even damn good. The offensive line was basically not horrible. Kirk Cousins was knocked all over the place while the Vikings still won games.

Based on free agency in March and the draft in April, the team is evidently content with the offensive line and will boast total continuity for the first time in years at all position(s).

3. They Like Their Existing CBs

Grim Injury News for Vikings CB
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could’ve drafted Pittsburgh’s rookie, Porter, or Deonte Banks from Maryland at pick No. 23 but selected Addison instead. Few fans complained or rebuked the Addison pick, but the cornerback room will still cause anxiety until Andrew Booth or Akayleb Evans is revealed as a bonafide starter.

Blackmon has the ceiling or upper floor to blossom into a CB1 or CB2. Those are best-laid plans, though, probably slated for 2024.

After no Round 1 CB pick, the Vikings may have to explore free agency for another corner. Men like Marcus Peters, Shaquill Griffin, and Rock Ya-Sin are available.

2. An Embarrassingly Rich Offense

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.

Adam Thielen left. Addison joined. KJ. Osborn is forced to attempt a blockade of Addison’s immediate ascension to WR2.

Rather than improve the NFL’s 27th-ranked defense per DVOA, the Vikings said “the hell with it” and chose the dynamic Addison instead of a defensive lineman or cornerback. In retrospect, this is how it goes with an offense-first head coach in the saddle.

Minnesota has the firepower following the draft to put up 28 points per game. Can it limit the other team to 27?

1. QB Early Not a Priority

Picks Another Fight
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Will Levis was there at No. 23. The man whose draft stock allegedly screamed Top 10 pick ultimately fell to Round 2, and the Vikings could’ve had him Thursday night.

Plus, Adofo-Mensah made no beefy trade up the draftboard for Anthony Richardson. He also didn’t get hoodwinked into the false Hendon Hooker 1st-Round sweepstakes.

The Vikings could indeed draft a developmental passer Saturday, but that man will join the roster just as Kellen Mond did two years — as a maybe. For now, it remains The Kirk Cousins Show. The Vikings have no early-round contingency plan for 2024 if Cousins walks via free agency.

Per the broad, long-term trajectory of Vikings football, that is a big deal.

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.