Vikings Address Another Weakness on Day 2

Unsung Move of the
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The Vikings and their general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah entered the 2023 offseason with many holes to fill and they started doing that in free agency. The addition of cornerback Byron Murphy was wonderful.

However, many more holes were left after the departures of Dalvin Tomlinson, most players of the cornerback room, and Adam Thielen. Adofo-Mensah addressed a couple of those problematic positions early in the draft.

Vikings Address Another Weakness on Day 2

Vikings Address Another Weakness on Day 2
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The first pick of the Vikings draft was Jordan Addison out of USC. He will replace Adam Thielen in the starting lineup sooner rather than later. Addison is a phenomenal route runner and will take some pressure off Justin Jefferson. While there are some concerns about his size, he only weighs 173 pounds, his refined skill set will help him get away with that lack of strength. The footwork, agility, and savviness are impressive.

He was the nation’s top receiver in 2021, he even ended the season winning the Biletnikoff Award, the honor for the top wideout in the country. The grades for the pick were mainly positive.

Addison can play inside and outside, the receiving corps of the Vikings just got a huge upgrade. Jefferson is now flanked by K.J. Osborn, Addison, and T.J. Hockenson, a group that might be one of the best in the league, depending on how well Addison can play early in his career. He is already a well-developed player and should hit the ground running after having success in college in two different schemes on two different teams.

Kirk Cousins is probably a very happy man after he saw the team add a dynamic weapon in his contract year, the year he must play well to receive an extension or a payday on a different team.

Have a New Draft
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Entering day two of the draft, Adofo-Mensah still had some roster concerns but only four more picks to work with. He had to wait from pick 32 to 87 before he was on the clock because the 55th pick went to the Detroit Lions for tight end T.J. Hockenson.

His second move was a trade, he traded down from 87 to 102 and received picks 164 and 222 in return. The Vikings won the trade on the trade charts.

Pick number 102 was the final pick of the third round. The Vikings have a couple of players on the roster who were drafted at that spot, Kirk Cousins in 2012 and Alexander Mattison in 2019. Former Vikings defensive end Brian Robison, a wonderful pick in 2007, was also selected with the 102nd overall pick.

Adofo-Mensah drafted a defender at that same position when he added cornerback Mekhi Blackmon to the team. He is much-needed help for a disastrous cornerback group. The Vikings are slowly turning into USC North, as both Blackmon and Addison come out of USC.

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Blackmon is joining a cornerback room with the projected starters Byron Murphy, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth. Murphy is the top guy, while Evans and Booth are unproven and have close to no NFL experience after missing most of their rookie campaigns injured. It’s absolutely necessary for the defensive turnaround that two of the three young guys will be decent players.

The new Vikings defender had a great year in 2022 with impressive numbers to show for it. According to profootballfocus, he was in 534 coverage snaps and was targeted 63 times, allowing only 30 receptions. 286 yards and 1 touchdown allowed and 3 interceptions led to a ridiculous passer rating allowed of 46.1.

Blackmon was graded by PFF as a top-5 cornerback in the nation in both man and zone coverage and was the second-best player in coverage in general, only trailing fifth-overall pick Devon Witherspoon.

So why was he available in the mid-rounds? Well, he is a small cornerback. He is 5’11” and 170 pounds. The size limits his potential and makes it hard for him to become a great CB.

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However, Blackmon is a fantastic fit in Brian Flores’ scheme. He is outstanding in man coverage and a feisty player. The pick screams Flores, and he probably pounded the table for the CB.

The hallmark of Blackmon’s game is his coverage ability, specifically in press-man. While undersized, Blackmon is an incredibly physical and aggressive corner who is not afraid to fight above his weight class. His physicality brings loads of penalty flags with it, but Blackmon is rarely beat for splash plays and demonstrates high-level ball skills.

Blackmon is an incredibly interesting prospect whose position in the draft has a wide range of outcomes. His physical limitations in both build and athleticism raise questions, yet his impressive coverage ability creates quite a lot of intrigue. Ultimately, he will likely be capped by these limitations, preventing him from being amongst the top defensive backs off the board.

Bleacher Report scouting department

The body type could indicate that he is a potential candidate to take over the vacant slot cornerback spot after Chandon Sullivan’s departure. Nickel CB spot has been a Vikings problem for years. Of course, he played on the outside in college and will also be in the mix to start as an outside CB.

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Unlike Addison who turned 21 in January and was one of the younger players in the draft, Blackmon turned 24 last month and is one of the oldest which is another reason why he wasn’t viewed as a top guy.

Long story short, the Vikings drafted a player who fits the scheme on a position of need with great skills and an excellent track record at his job, who is undersized and for that reason was available in the mid-rounds.

The Vikings have five more picks on Saturday. Linebacker and defensive lines are two more needs and the team could take a stab at a quarterback.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt