10 Bold Predictions: Which Position Do Vikings Target in Round 1?

Fans Have Spoken
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl against the Utah Utes in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2022. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

VikingsTerritory writers were asked to provide one prediction apiece for the Minnesota Vikings draft preference by position in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The club doesn’t currently have a 2nd-Round pick, so the first position should indicate the Vikings 23rd overall pick, plus the position of the eventual 3rd-Rounder. However, many Vikings-themed voices expect general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to trade out of the 23rd pick and grab a 2nd-Rounder in the process. So, this article merely defines the position of the first two picks regardless of round.

10 Bold Predictions: Which Position Do Vikings Target in Round 1?

Some predictions will double up as the panel did not use groupthink tactics during the exercise. In those circumstances, consider the prediction all the more popular.

1. DT, then C

Which Position Do Vikings
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Adam New

So much can happen between now and the draft. Which of the Viking’s free agents will return? Who will be cut or traded, and what will the Vikings do in free agency? In deciding on where Minnesota’a first two picks go, here’s my prediction:

The Vikings look for a starting CB1 in free agency and bring Duke Shelley to compete with Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans. The third pick of the draft then likely goes toward a cornerback. Secondly, Minnesota does not bring back Garrett Bradbury. Another team offers him the kind of money the Vikings aren’t prepared to match, knowing his limitations.

That leaves Minnesota taking an interior defensive lineman with their first pick. The Vikings can probably get their guy with a trade back to add more capital, which is why this position makes sense. There are two ways to go with this pick, and it depends on the future of Dalvin Tomlinson.

If Tomlinson leaves for new pastures, then a big dominant nose tackle, e.g., Siaki Ika, is the way to go. However, if Tomlinson remains in purple and gold, then an interior pass rusher, e.g., Get on Gervon Dexter Sr, would be the pick.

For the second pick, the Vikings need to find a starting center to replace the outgoing Bradbury.

2. CB, then WR

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

The Vikings will draft a CB in the 1st Round.

Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, and Duke Shelley are all FAs. We don’t know yet how good Cam Dantzler will be either. He could be a pretty decent CB2 the rest of the way. He won’t be a CB1, though.

Then, WR will be the next pick. Even if Adam Thielen is back in 2023, it’s hard to imagine him staying after that.

3. EDGE, then WR

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

The first two draft positions the Vikings take will be an EDGE and then a wide receiver. They need to get younger at EDGE, and far too often in 2022 didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback. Even if Za’Darius Smith is back, the team needs to address the position for the future.

With their second pick, they add firepower to an offense that showed glimpses of brilliance in 2022. However, the unit never fully took off. As phenomenal as Justin Jefferson was, Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn too often failed to pick up the slack when Jefferson was neutralized.

4. WR, then EDGE

Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Dustin Baker

Adam Thielen didn’t produce at a WR2 level in 2022, and he may regrettably depart the team via release or trade. The Vikings will use their first pick in the draft on a wide receiver because a free-agent WR2 will be expensive and a wee bit meh. There’s more value in the draft to find a WR2.

After that, the Vikings haven’t drafted an EDGE rusher in Rounds 1 or 2 since 2005. That must change. Minnesota will likely roll with the Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith combination in 2023 — which is great — but they need a plan for life after Za’Darius. This draft is stuffed to the gills with promising EDGE rushers.

5. DT, then RB

Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (11) warms up before the game with Wake Forest at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022. © Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Both positions are somewhat overlooked in the hierarchy of needs, yet they’re intriguing spots to monitor as the offseason gets going. I, for one, would very much welcome a DT who can collapse the pocket with regularity. Though most of the chatter has been about the need for a WR2, that’s not actually a position I’m that concerned about (K.J. Osborn — a future team captain — FTW).

Bringing the run game back to life would introduce the needed balance to the offense while benefitting the defense by chewing up the clock more effectively.

6. CB, then DT

Oregon defensive back Christian Gonzalez (0) works out with the Ducks Tuesday, April 12, 2022. © Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

Brian Flores needs cornerbacks for his defensive system to work, and the Vikings only have underwhelming or unproven options. He will have a big say about which CB will be the target in the 1st Round.

The Vikings haven’t had a defensive tackle who’s been a threat to quarterbacks for over a decade. That is something the team wants to change.

7. 2 CBs

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports,

Prediction Maker = Mitch Massman

The Vikings primary needs in the draft include CB, DL, and LB. With the recent hire of Brian Flores, the CB group becomes the utmost important position to address. The 2023 CB is deep. The Vikings will use their first two draft picks to address the emergency of CB depth.

8. CB, then DT

Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) questions a call during Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 30, 2021. © Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Will Goodwin

The Vikings defense needs help. Badly.

With only five selections at his disposal (for now), Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will prioritize finding difference-makers for new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Since Minnesota will discover an experienced free agent linebacker, such as Tremaine Edmunds, to pair with Brian Asamoah, they’ll snag an aggressive press-man CB with their first draft pick to fit nicely into Flores’ system.

Providing interior pressure from the DT position is ultra-important to get QBs out of their rhythm. The Vikings haven’t had that type of force in quite some time. Minnesota will select a man-eating DT with their second draft choice.

9. WR, then LB

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Josh Frey

A year after Eric Kendricks-themed trade proposals were all the rage for many folks around the NFL, the Vikings will finally deal their veteran LB this offseason. With an aging defense, Minnesota desperately needs to get younger and faster on that side of the ball.

Brian Asamoah is ‘next man up’ on the depth chart, and don’t be surprised if the Vikings dip back into the LB position in this year’s draft.

10. WR, then LB

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

The Vikings need a legitimate WR2 alongside Justin Jefferson, and at this point, that’s not Adam Thielen. The free-agent group isn’t inspiring, so a 1st-Round pick may be worthy there.

Replacing Eric Kendricks is a must, and finding another Brian Asamoah in the draft would be great for Brian Flores.

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.