Vikings “Do Both” in Latest ESPN Mock Draft

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In a debate that won’t stop until April 25th, Minnesota Vikings fans have engaged in discourse about the team’s primary draft need, with a section of the fanbase hellbent on an impact defensive player and the other chanting quarterback.

Vikings “Do Both” in Latest ESPN Mock Draft

Indeed, the franchise is expected to end up in either camp, using the 11th overall pick on a standout EDGE rusher or defensive lineman or perhaps trading up the board for a blue-chip quarterback prospect like Drake Maye (North Carolina) or Jayden Daniels (LSU).

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But according to ESPN’s Matt Miller, Minnesota can “do both,” draft an EDGE defender and quarterback if that can be believed. He envisioned the Vikings remaining at the 11th pick, selecting Alabama’s Dallas Turner, and watching as Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., a quarterback, tumbled to Round 2.

It is unlikely for Penix Jr. to fall into the 2nd Round, but the draft machine is mysterious and ever-evolving.

Still, Miller explained the Turner pick in Round 1, “Danielle Hunter is a free agent, and Turner would perfectly fit D-coordinator Brian Flores’ defensive wish list at edge rusher. Turner had 10 sacks in his breakout 2023 season, and one NFC area scout thinks his ceiling is higher than former college teammate Will Anderson Jr., who went No. 3 in last year’s draft.”

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Turner would instantly provide the Vikings with a handful of dazzling traits. First, he’s young. The pass rusher turned 21 three days ago. Turner is also fast and can stop the run more than most rookie EDGEs. And products from Alabama don’t typically flop like other schools. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Vikings fans would warm up to Turner in a heartbeat.

On Penix Jr., with the strange fall to Round 2, Miller opined, “Penix has excellent arm strength and velocity, and as a pure passer, he’s a first-rounder. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards in 2023 and helped lead Washington to the national title game. But those injury and durability questions push him to the Vikings. It’s great news for Minnesota, where Kirk Cousins is set to become a 35-year-old free agent coming off an Achilles injury. Penix can be the quarterback-in-waiting if Cousins is re-signed, or the immediate starter if he is not.”

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The kicker here is the spot. Most mock drafts keep Penix Jr. attached to the 1st Round, so his stock would need a serious plunge for Minnesota to live in both worlds.

During the College Football Championship semifinal, Penix Jr. mesmerized the football world, helping the Huskies defeat the Texas Longhorns six weeks ago. Washington prevailed 37-31, as Penix Jr. delivered 461 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. His draft stock ascended, and many believe he’d fit quite well inside the Vikings’ 2024 offense.

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Then, his Huskies lost the following week in the championship while Penix Jr. didn’t look too spectacular, allowing his draft stock to remain outside the Top 10. Per Miller, the slide could toss Penix Jr. into Round 2.

If the Vikings are not interested in trading up the board for Penix Jr. as the long-term solution, quarterbacks J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), Bo Nix (Oregon), and Michael Pratt (Tulane) should be gettable without a trade.

The NFL Draft is 80 days away.

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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