Vikings in Line for Fancy Draft Pick

vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings 2023 season is spiraling, and not in a good way.

The club is 1-4, on deck to lose its best player (Justin Jefferson) for four games, and has a challenging three-game slate afoot against the Chicago Bears (road), San Francisco 49ers (home), and Green Bay Packers (road).

Vikings in Line for Fancy Draft Pick

And while the club could certainly rally in Jefferson’s absence — getting rid of the senseless turnovers might fix everything — a fancy draft pick is probably heading to the Vikings bucket, according to ESPN.

Vikings in Line for Fancy
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For starters, if the NFL draft occurred tonight, Minnesota would select fourth, after the aforementioned Bears (No. 1 and 2) and Denver Broncos (No. 3). The Vikings could be absolutely guaranteed a chance at a game-changing player, and hopefully for their sake, North Carolina passer Drake Maye at the No. 4 spot.

Of course, the 2024 NFL Draft is a long way around the bend, and the draft order will change significantly in the next three months.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Per ESPN, though, Minnesota is trending toward a Top 10 pick — even if it doesn’t conduct a trade “fire sale” involving players like Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. Without Jefferson indefinitely, Minnesota may just be bad all by its lonesome.

ESPN published an article this week showcasing its FPI metric and the implication for 2024 draft order. Seth Walder described the process: “Every week during the season, the FPI projects the draft order by simulating the remainder of the season 10,000 times. Game probabilities are based largely on the model’s ratings for individual teams in addition to game locations. The order is based on the records the model believes the teams will have after 17 games and each team’s average draft position in the simulations.”

Overhauled Teams
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This is where Minnesota landed via draft probability, according to ESPN:

FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 1%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 13%
FPI chance to earn top-10 pick: 41.5%

– ESPN

On the FPI board right now, the Vikings live at the ninth overall pick, suggesting the club would end 2023 with a 6-11 or 7-10 record.

The placement is noteworthy because a higher organic pick increases the team’s likelihood of trading up for its quarterback of the future. For example, if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah grabs a Top 10 pick after a miserable 2023 regular season, he could flip that and future draft capital to a team in the Top 3 for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.

However, if the Vikings “make a run” in the next several games, ending with a record like 9-8 or so, well, the draft pick will tumble back to the middle, perhaps No. 16 or 17. That pick is not as tantalizing via tradebait.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Therefore, the next 12 Vikings games will be laced with duality. If they win, the draft pick falls, adversely affecting 2024’s draft capital. Should the team continue losing, weekends will be unenjoyable for fans, but the long-term fallout is more advantageous.

At the Vikings current rate of business, they’d pick fourth next April, and if ESPN is correct, the selection will be closer to ninth.


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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.