After QB, Vikings Will Probably Target This in Draft

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Most Minnesota Vikings fans are wrapped up in the “who’s it gonna be” at quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft — and fair enough.

After QB, Vikings Will Probably Target This in Draft

The club is positioned to move up the draftboard between now and April 25th for a quarterback of the future after general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah conducted a pre-draft trade two weeks ago, sending two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap. Another trade is expected, possibly enabling Minnesota to grab a quarterback like Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy.

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But don’t forget about the defensive tackle spot, says Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell.

The young skipper said this week about his team’s DT priority during free agency, “We made a run at some certain guys in free agency. In the end, we were okay with what we were able to add on the edges, and then you really supplement that defensive room with a lot of different skill sets.”

And that was probably code for Christian Wilkins, who landed with the Las Vegas Raiders for four years and $110 million. KSTP’s Darren Wolfson recently explained on SKOR North’s Mackey and Judd Show, “O’Connell alluded to this on Monday, just how much work, how much the Vikings were in on some of these defensive tackles, namely Christian Wilkins. Like, what the Raiders gave Wilkins, I think surprised the Vikings. Those 48 hours leading into the official start of free agency, like I’m telling you, the Vikings were feeling very, very good about their chances of landing Christian Wilkins.”

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With Wilkins unavailable, Minnesota may use whatever draft capital is left over on a defensive tackle after the would-be trade up the board. O’Connell also said, “I think there’s going to be some really impactful options potentially there throughout the depth of the draft.”

Assuming the Vikings can’t snag DT Byron Murphy II from Texas, for example, in early rounds, these are the DTs to watch and fit with O’Connell’s comments:

  • Khristian Boyd (UNI)
  • DeWayne Carter (Duke)
  • Brandon Dorlus (Oregon)
  • Braden Fiske (Florida State)
  • Michael Hall Jr. (Ohio State)
  • McKinnley Jackson (Texas A&M)
  • Ruke Orhorhoro (Clemson)
  • Kris Jenkins (Michigan)
  • Maason Smith (LSU)
  • T’Vondre Sweat (Texas)
  • Leonard Taylor III (Miami)
  • Mekhi Wingo (LSU)
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Meanwhile, Minnesota added Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams at DT while focusing on the edges of the defensive line, adding Jonathan Greenard (Houston Texans) and Andrew Van Ginkel (Miami Dolphins). Adofo-Mensah also re-signed Jonathan Bullard, who started most of the time following Dean Lowry’s season-ending injury in 2023.

After mentioning the Vikings’ pursuit of Wilkins, Darren Wolfson also noted that the Vikings could use the draft for an impact DT, though it could be tricky if the franchise is trading multiple picks for a quarterback of the future: “They like a lot of these interior defensive linemen too in this draft class. I don’t know how you maneuver for some of the top guys, but they certainly are doing a lot of homework on interior defensive linemen.”

Cap Increase
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All the clues are there — O’Connell’s comments, Wolfson’s reporting, and Minnesota’s depth chart without a premiere three-technique DT. This is a warning to adjust your mock drafts. Another DT is probably on the way.

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).

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