Vikings “Dream Target” Is an Unpopular One

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The decision at the vital quarterback spot will shape Minnesota’s offseason. The Vikings are in danger of losing Kirk Cousins, the starter for the past six seasons, in free agency without an heir apparent on the roster. Finding his successor is general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s most important task in the next few years.

Vikings “Dream Target” Is an Unpopular One

Vikings Dream Target Is an Unpopular One
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To achieve that, he can spend the 11th overall pick or cap space in free agency, although those veteran replacements aren’t promising. The draft pick, meanwhile, could also be used in other areas; acquiring some help for Brian Flores’ defense is also an option. At the current draft position, the Vikes should be able to select one of the top pass rushers: Laiatu Latu, Dallas Turner, or Jared Verse.

Also providing help up front would be defensive tackles Johnny Newton and Byron Murphy. The two interior defenders are expected to hear their names called in the first round and could bring some much-needed pass rush to the defensive line.

Drafting a cornerback in the first round is generally unpopular in Minnesota after the duo of Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman selected Trae Waynes in 2015, Mike Hughes in 2018, and Jeff Gladney in 2020. That unpopularity, though, might not prevent the fans from encountering another CB pick as it is once again one of the team’s weaknesses, and the 11th overall pick could be a prime spot to find a solution rather than putting faith into the guys on the roster.

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Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler named a dream target for each of the 32 franchises, and he envisions Alabama’s CB Terrion Arnold to be Minnesota’s perfect pick:

A lot about drafting prospects comes down to scheme fit. And pigeonholing players usually isn’t the best way to build a roster.

Projecting Terrion Arnold into the aggressive Brian Flores-led defense is a match that could thrive for a long, long time. Minnesota has to figure out the quarterback plan moving forward, but adding a talent like Arnold is a right step in the direction of building a secondary that’s finished in the bottom third of the league in passing yards allowed per game the last two seasons.

Any defense improves drastically if the cornerback spots are upgraded. Akayleb Evans and Byron Murphy started last season, and while Murphy mostly played well, Evans experienced an up-and-down sophomore campaign. Behind those two players, the purple team employs 2022 second-rounder Andrew Booth and 2023 third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon.

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The decision-makers have two approaches: They can either trust those young players to gain some consistency to turn into starting-caliber players or make a move to find someone who can.

Arnold is regarded by many as the top cornerback in the draft. He will not turn 21 until March 22, showing his immense upside. Just last season, Arnold was named first-team All-American. Through 14 games, Arnold tabulated 63 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 5 interceptions.

According to Pro Football Focus, the cornerback was targeted 79 times and allowed 41 catches for 441 yards and 2 touchdowns. That results in an NFL passer rating of 50.7. He also recorded the third-best run defense grade among FBS cornerbacks.

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Keith Sanchez from the Draft Network wrote about Arnold in January: “Overall, Arnold is as physically gifted as any corner in the 2024 NFL Draft class. If he clears up a few technique issues, there is a clear path for him to be a high-level corner in the NFL.”

The defensive back is one of the draft’s top players, and the Vikings should give him a look. Whether they ultimately prioritize a new cornerback over the acquisition of a passer or the reinforcements of the trenches remains to be seen.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt