Mitch Massman’s Vikings Mock Draft 1.0

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With the draft set to take place in four short weeks, it is the perfect time to begin mock drafting for the Vikings in 2023. There are hundreds of mock drafts to find all over the internet. Many of them indicate the Vikings are looking to draft a quarterback or wide receiver in round 1.

This exercise aims to conduct 4 total mock drafts over the next 4 weeks to determine what players will be available on the clock. Will there be a quarterback worth trying to trade up for? What would that trade compensation look like?

If there is no trade-up partner, does it make sense to take a player on the board or look to trade back and accumulate additional draft capital? In a trade-back scenario, what would be the ideal outcome? Do the Vikings try to snag a couple of Day 2 cornerbacks or maybe a cornerback and wide receiver and then take a swing on a random quarterback?

Regardless of how that plays out in the simulation, we will, at minimum, get to know each of the players selected a little bit more. With all of that said, let’s get this party started using Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator.

The First Round of the Vikings Mock Draft is in the Book

The first round of this simulation did not play out well for the Vikings to even have an opportunity to trade up to take a quarterback. The top-4 quarterbacks (Young, Stroud, Richardson, and Levis) were all off the board by pick 8. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where the Vikings can trade up into the top 10 to get one of the four guys.

A trade to get up that high would likely include the first-round picks in ’23, ’24, and ’25, along with this year’s 3rd round pick and next year’s 2nd round pick. The Vikings might even need to throw in a player like Danielle Hunter or Dalvin Cook to sweeten the deal. Regardless, this is a hefty price I do not find likely to happen.

At pick 23 in this simulation, the Vikings have many options, including edge defenders Lukas Van Ness and Nolan Smith, cornerbacks Kelee Ringo and Deonte Banks, and wide receivers Quentin Johnston and Zay Flowers. Additionally, there are two trade offers on the table, and I am taking the offer from the Eagles to move down to pick 30 and gain pick 94.

The reason for this trade back is I am content with more than 10 players left on the board. Gaining another draft pick on day 2 will come in handy.

With the 30th overall pick in the 2023 draft, the Minnesota Vikings Select:

  • Zay Flowers, a wide receiver from Boston College
Mock Draft Wide Receiver
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Zay Flowers is one of the fastest receivers in this class and has shown the ability to separate from cornerbacks. Pair that ability with a little coaching at the next level, and he could be an excellent pairing with All-Pro Justin Jefferson.

However, he is not necessarily perfect for the Vikings, as he lacks the physicality that Kevin O’Connell desires out of his receivers in the running game. Although, this might not be as big of a concern as it appears the Vikings will be leaning a little heavier into 22 personnel than they did in 2022. This makes the selection of Flowers a solid pickup for a team that desperately needs a wide receiver 2.

Day 2 Features a Double Down on Defense

Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores takes over the team’s defense at an introductory press conference on February 15th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota.

The Vikings entered day 2 with no second-round pick but two picks in the third round thanks to the trade down with the Eagles on day 1. In this simulation, Keeanu Benton, a defensive tackle out of Wisconsin, is on the board at 87. The Vikings run to the podium to slam this pick.

  • Pick 87 – Keeanu Benton, a defensive tackle from Wisconsin

Keeanu Benton plays with incredible strength at the point of attack. He can maintain his gap and shed blockers. His stoutness in the center of the defensive line could prove valuable for a Vikings team that was gashed consistently in 2022.

However, his biggest downside is that he is not very quick off the ball, which is why he will be available in the late-second or third round of the draft. Regardless, he can potentially be a starter in the league and, at the very least, a quality depth piece for the interior defensive line.

At Pick 94, Hendon Hooker is still on the board. There have been a bunch of mock drafts that have shown the Vikings selecting him, even in the first round. While taking a stab at Hooker with the 94th pick is intriguing, I have watched him miss throws by a wide margin on slant routes and wide receiver screens. Therefore, I am out on him.

  • Pick 94 – Tyrique Stevenson, a cornerback from Miami, Florida

Stevenson is one of the more explosive cornerbacks that you will find available on Day 2 of the draft. He is of the ideal size for an outside cornerback and has the burst to accelerate downhill quickly. The exact traits that we saw O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah target in last year’s draft. A solid pickup for a cornerback room that is in distress.

The remaining picks are all about depth and potential.

  • Pick 119 – Mohamoud Diabate, a linebacker from Utah

Diabate is an undersized linebacker who can fly around. His most significant strength is his range and ability to close. He’s also a good coverage linebacker but needs to get a little better at reading the field. However, his biggest downfall is his inability to deconstruct blocks. This sounds exactly like Brian Asamoah. Why not double-dip and see what happens?

  • Pick 158 – Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a quarterback from UCLA
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports.

Thompson-Robinson has been linked to the Vikings as a potential target in this year’s draft. He is one of those quarterbacks that is great at improvising but struggles with mechanics. Not necessarily the heir apparent to Kirk Cousins, but a quarterback is always worth a flyer of a pick this late in the draft.

  • Pick 211 – Anthony Bradford, a guard from LSU

Bradford is one of those tackles that relies on his strength and size rather than technique and athleticism. He was able to get away with knocking around defenders that were simply not as big as him. When he gets to the NFL, he must work on his technique at the next level. However, the Vikings might just be content with a guy that is really difficult to move off his spot when it comes to a backup guard.

Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3