The Athletic Mock Draft Sways Away from QB

Draft Has New Flavor
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The Minnesota Vikings are gingerly expected to select a quarterback, EDGE rusher, or defensive tackle in the 2024 NFL Draft, an event that kicks off 12 weeks from tonight.

The Athletic Mock Draft Sways Away from QB

The club needs a quarterback of the future, especially if QB1 Kirk Cousins bolts via free agency, while the defensive trenches need help if the Vikings want to be a playoff contender in 2024.

According to The Athletic’s latest mock draft, though, cornerback is the top long-term need, evidenced by its selection of Alabama corner Terrion Arnold for the Vikings this week.

Draft Sways Away
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Minnesota holds the 11th pick in April’s draft, its highest placement since 2015 when the franchise drafted — you guessed it — a cornerback in Trae Waynes of Michigan State. The Vikings have spent oodles of draft capital on CBs in the last decade, mostly to no avail.

On the Arnold pick, The Athletic’s Diante Lee explained, “The Vikings can go in a few different directions here (and, in fact, I think it would make sense to trade back), but rebuilding on the fly means bringing in young talent at premium positions. At 6-0 and around 200 pounds, Arnold has prototypical size to match up with any receiver, and his change-of-direction skills keep him in tight coverage across the entire route tree.”

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The Vikings used 1st-Round draft capital on cornerback Mike Hughes and Jeff Gladney in 2018 and 2020, respectively, and neither remained on the roster for long.

Lee added about Arnold to Minnesota, “The ball skills he showed this season (six INTs) marked a major development — and it’s why I feel he’s the top CB in the class.”

Coaches Basically
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Notably in Lee’s mock draft, the Vikings passed on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who he envisioned joining the Las Vegas Raiders. LSU passer Jayden Daniels fell to No. 8 and was snatched by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez described Arnold’s skillset last month, “Terrion Arnold profiles as an elite-level athlete who entered the Alabama program as a safety and made the transition to playing the cornerback position. Arnold became a starter entering the 2022 season and continued to develop his skill set through the offseason, putting together one of the best cornerback seasons and becoming one of the biggest rising 2024 NFL Draft prospects.”

Terrion Arnold of St. John Paul II is the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 49 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 interception returns and 1 forced fumble. © Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The Vikings’ defense ranked 11th per DVOA in 2023, a vast improvement from 24th in 2022. However, the club ranked dead last per completion percentage allowed — probably why The Athletic paired Minnesota with Arnold.

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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