Ranking the Vikings 5 Likeliest 1st-Round Draft Outcomes

Draft Prediction for
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The 2023 NFL Draft is precisely four weeks away, and the Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to pick 23rd.

The team still has a long way to go for roster construction if it aspires playoff contention, not an uncommon theme for NFL teams before the draft.

Ranking the Vikings 5 Likeliest 1st-Round Draft Outcomes

You still have four weeks to formulate your official Vikings draft predictions — much can change between now and April 27th — yet for now, these are the Vikings likeliest 1st-Round draft outcomes, ranked in ascending order (No. 5 = least likely).

5. Trade Up for QB

Ranking the Vikings 5
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) runs away from the pocket to throw a touchdown pass to Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18), not in photo, against Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter of the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. © Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Who: Will Levis (QB), Anthony Richardson (QB), C.J. Stroud (QB)

Kirk Cousins isn’t connected to the Vikings roster beyond 2023, so it might be time to draft the next guy. Of course, this draft class’ Big Four QBs are theorized to fly off the board in the first 10 picks — and the Vikings don’t pick until No. 23.

If they want C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, or Anthony Richardson, paying a steep price could be required. Watch for the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles as trade partners.

Determining if the “value general manager,” Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, will trade the farm for a quarterback is tricky.

4. Draft QB at No. 23

Will Levis Week
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Who: Will Levis (QB), Anthony Richardson (QB)

To blend the best of both QB worlds, perhaps Levis or Richardson slides on draft night all the way to Minnesota’s organic pick.

Richardson was horribly inaccurate — sometimes — at Florida, and some general managers could be scared away by it, particularly early in the draft. Levis, on the other hand, is said to be an odd duck, maybe teetering on neurotic or arrogant. He’s even tumbled to the Vikings in mock drafts at No. 23.

3. The Field

Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson talks with media during midweek interviews at the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson Tuesday, October 11, 2022. © Ken Ruinard / USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Who: Trenton Simpson (LB), Bryan Bresee (DT), Calijah Kancey (DT), Brian Branch (S), Myles Murphy (EDGE)

This is essentially the “not QB, WR, or CB” category.

Maybe we’ve got it all wrong, and the Vikings select an off-ball linebacker, defensive tackle, or EDGE rusher. They could certainly stand to improve at those spots, but other positions are a direr need — mainly cornerback and wide receiver.

But some fabulous LBs, DTs, and EDGEs exist in this draft class. Perhaps Adofo-Mensah totally wraps his arms around best player available and chooses the top football player regardless of position — like RB Bijan Robinson.

2. Draft a CB or WR at No. 23

Another Pundit Piles
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Who: Deonte Banks (CB), Cam Smith (CB), Devon Witherspoon (CB), Joey Porter (CB), Emmanuel Forbes (CB), Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR), Jordan Addison (WR), Quentin Johnson (QB), Zay Flowers (WR)

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the Vikings need more startable cornerbacks, especially if none join the roster during the next four weeks. Each day the Vikings hold off signing a cornerback like Shaquill Griffin or Rock Ya-Sin in free agency, more fingers point at a corner as the first pick in the draft.

Too, it is unclear if K.J. Osborn is the for-sure WR2 after Adam Thielen left for Carolina. If the Vikings stay put at No. 23, they almost have to draft a cornerback or wide receiver.

1. A Trade Back, out of No. 23

Vikings Trade out
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Who: Kelee Ringo (CB), Jalin Hyatt (WR), Eli Ricks (CB) — tons of options.

This is what Adofo-Mensah did last year — why wouldn’t he do it again?

Minnesota needs more draft capital, and the simplest way is a trade out of the 23rd pick downward for more football players. Last year, the Vikings traded the lottery ticket away that could’ve drafted Kyle Hamilton and flipped it for Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Ed Ingram, and Brian Asamoah.

Adofo-Mensah doesn’t have a 2nd-Rounder because of the T.J. Hockenson trade five months ago. Trading out of the 23rd pick can reclaim that pick.

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.