The Vikings Top 2 Draft Questions
We are officially buckled in for the draft. Tomorrow, fans worldwide will tune in to the biggest day in the offseason. We shall find out if the rumors over the offseason are even remotely true. This 2023 draft class is fairly enticing. Minnesota fans usually shrug away at first-round corners, especially since the Zimmer era. Even though this cornerback class has a plethora of first-round flair. Minnesota only has five total picks.
The Vikings Top 2 Draft Questions
Will GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah repeat last year’s strategy and trade back? How about finding the quarterback of the future? These are just a few of the several questions fans want answered. Some of these popular thoughts and rumors will be found controversial amongst fans, and they are, without a doubt, issues that need to be tended to. Hopefully, there will be solutions to these problems this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
1. CB. Trust Current Depth or Draft CB at 23?
This offseason, the cornerback room is the definition of controversial. Duke Shelley blossomed at the end of the season, and Minnesota did not give him a second chance. He signed a very cheap deal with Las Vegas, one year, $1.3m. 2022 team interception leader Patrick Peterson signs with Pittsburgh, and Cam Dantzler gets waived and claimed by Washington. The last corner to exit the twin cities was Kris Boyd, now an Arizona Cardinal. Chandon Sullivan is currently an unrestricted free agent.
A few names have been added to the depth chart since. CB Joejuan Williams is a former Patriot selected 45th overall in 2019. Meaning he never worked under new DC Brian Flores. Former Cardinal Byron Murphy joins the Purple and Gold. He was selected 33rd overall in 2019. This makes the current depth chart…
LCB: Andrew Booth Jr. (22), Byron Murphy Jr. (25), Tay Gowan (25)
RCB: Akayleb Evans (23), Joejuan Williams (25), Kalon Barnes (24)
You’d be right to question how well this current depth is. Here is the number of snaps, games played, and starts by these individuals.
Andrew Booth Jr. – 6 games, 1 start. 105 snaps
Akayleb Evans – 10 games. 2 starts. 162 snaps
Tay Gowan – 3 games. 0 starts. 15 snaps on special teams
Kalon Barnes – 9 special teams plays.
Byron Murphy Jr. – 56 games. 48 starts. 3460 snaps
Joejuan Williams -36 games. 1 start. 505 snaps,
Cam Bynum played 100% of snaps last season and mainly played cornerback during his college days in California.
What Corner Would Minnesota Draft?
Quite a few cornerbacks will make immediate impact wherever they’re drafted. Names like Joey Porter Jr., Christian Gonzales, and Deven Witherspoon are who you would want on your football team. Getting a first-round stud would require trading up or hoping one drops at 23.
For situation sake, let’s say Kwesi does trade back. A first-round corner is no longer plausible, Deja vu may strike with a cornerback selection in the 2nd through 4th rounds. This move would give draft capital, all while picking up a solid corner and putting whatever trust you have in this current cornerback room. That pick could very well be Clark Phillips III.
Clark Phillips III
The height of Phillips would make him the shortest of Minnesota’s corners. He stands at 5′ 9″ and weighs 184 pounds. In 2022, Phillips racked up 24 tackles, 6 interceptions, 1 sack, and 6 pass breakups with Utah. Put him left, right, or slot, and you will witness a great football player. He’s tough and physical regardless of his stature. He put up 18 reps on bench press at the combine. QB rating when targeted was just 68.4. Scouting reports also mention his stellar football IQ, quick feet, excellent lateral agility, and competitive ball hawking — showing no fear against any opponent.
That said, his size will still play a factor in certain passing situations where height and vertical attributes are needed. All of that, mixed with an average speed and a 33-inch vertical, is believed to be the only thing keeping this young prospect from being selected in the first round. The confidence in himself is through the roof. He does his homework and executes from film study. He may bite on play action with his aggressive nature, but coaches would rather tell a player to relax on the aggression versus telling a player to fuel their aggression.
2. QB. Draft or Trade?
“Captain” Kirk Cousins has been a very efficient quarterback since he joined the club in 2018. Recent indications perceive his time in Minnesota to be over after the 2023 season. Finding a new face of the franchise is inevitable. Decision-making is difficult when the team only has five total picks. Trading up is always an option for someone like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis. Trading with another team to gain an active NFL quarterback is also an option.
A frequent name in the latter is Trey Lance. The third option is to wait it out and draft in 2024. Option three could be burdensome because whoever is drafted in 2024 would immediately start without supervision from someone like Kirk Cousins.
Which QB Could Minnesota Draft?
The four big names we all know by heart. C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson are guaranteed to be gone in the 1st round, so realistically, Minnesota shouldn’t be interested. The name connected to Minnesota is QB Hendon Hooker from Tennessee.
The biggest offseason controversy is Minnesota apparently “having the book” on Hooker. The big concern with the former Volunteer is the torn ACL and his age. Christian Darrisaw’s former teammate is 25 years old and stands at 6′ 4″ while weighing 218. If Minnesota is looking for accuracy, mobility, size, and dual-threat ability, then this is your guy. His sample size from his time in Tennessee looks like this.
Full ACL recoveries typically range from six to nine months, meaning he will be eligible by the time the 2023 season begins. The doubts about his age may also be blown out of proportion. Indeed, he won’t start a game until he is 26 if Minnesota drafts him. Quarterbacks are playing in their 40s nowadays. Getting him in the first round would be crucial just for the pure power of the fifth-year option.
Regardless of what risks Minnesota wants to take, getting a quarterback at 23 may be a reach with this class. Especially when there are needs at other positions that a bonafide first-rounder could heal. For whatever reason, Hooker slips to the 2nd-3rd round. Give him a shot.
His 58 passing touchdowns and 5 interceptions in Tennessee have raised plenty of eyebrows. Those numbers are impressive, and many doubters claim the style of offense Hooker played under made him so successful. Spacing and tempo are what best describe Tennessee’s offensive success.
Who Could Minnesota Trade for?
Trey Lance is who we’re all thinking about. San Francisco gave up three 1st round picks and some more picks to select Trey Lance third overall in the 2021 draft. Since then, Lance has started in 4 games. In Week 2 of his 2022 campaign, Lance runs up the gut on a designed QB rush and breaks his ankle. Now, the 49ers, who gave up so much for Lance, have given him an extremely small trial run and are ready to get rid of him.
Recent memory of first-round quarterbacks not working out with their first team that eventually getting traded has shown not to improve. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are just a couple of examples. It’s no shocker that teams could be hesitant on Lance’s potential upside.
The positive outlook is his young age. Lance will be 23 when the season starts. He has practically zero experience, which is a pro and a con. If he gets traded to Minnesota, he’ll be cheap. He would have one year under Kirk and then take over with one year left on his rookie deal and a possible second with the fifth-year option.
Let’s face it. This potentially has more to do with Kyle Shanahan’s relationship with Kirk Cousins. If there is a franchise Cousins would waive his no-trade clause to, it’s San Francisco. Trading before June 1st will have Minnesota paying $18m in dead cap instead of $28m in dead cap in 2024 if a trade happens after June 1st. Minnesota would obtain Lance and some draft capital.
What kind of draft capital, you ask?
Cousins could very well be worth a 1st round pick. Just a reminder, San Francisco GM John Lynch has used 3(!) first-round draft picks on who he thought was the next face of the franchise. Receiving Trey Lance, a 2024 first round and some thirds for Kirk Cousins isn’t as far-fetched as some may think, especially for a franchise that, on paper, are a quarterback away from a super bowl. Just think of the haul Seattle earned for the Russel Wilson trade.
Selecting early-round talent and having two seasons and a potential 3rd with Trey Lance under center would be a cheap and efficient way to find the answer at quarterback. If he’s not the answer, trade up and pick up a quarterback in the 2024 draft. None of us want to be entertained with another quarterback carousel.
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