Mel Kiper Has New Draft Theory for Vikings

Vikings Go Defense in Mel Kiper's First Mock Draft of the Year
Mel Kiper

In January, ESPN’s Mel Kiper used his first mock draft of the 2024 cycle to associate the Minnesota Vikings with a cornerback — Nate Wiggins of Clemson.

Mel Kiper Has New Draft Theory for Vikings

That theory was fine and dandy, although most Vikings fans expect the club to draft a quarterback or defensive lineman with its 11th overall pick.

Kiper Has New Draft
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Now, Kiper is evidently on board with the fan-driven theory because this week, EDGE rusher Jared Verse of Florida State joined Minnesota via his second mock draft. Kiper switched it up.

Kiper explained Verse to Vikings, “I almost went corner here — Terrion Arnold (Alabama), Cooper DeJean (Iowa) and Nate Wiggins (Clemson) are my top three — but I wonder whether this instead could be the spot for an edge rusher. If Danielle Hunter leaves in free agency, Minnesota would have a massive void to fill.”

Kiper Has New Draft
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Minnesota has two EDGE defenders under contract for 2024 as of February 28th: Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II. Neither is considered a startable option, at least not right now.

“Verse could be an asset on all three downs. He had 18 sacks over two seasons at FSU, where he also developed into a solid run defender. He was inconsistent at times, but he has some savvy as a pass-rusher. I’m really curious to see how he tests in the on-field drills at the combine,” Kiper added.

One Man Keeps Popping
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If Hunter returns and never sees the light of the free-agent market, well, Minnesota will need one starting outside linebacker, either from free agency or the draft. With the Kiper choice, Verse would fill that role.

Verse to Minnesota is nothing new. It’s all over the place, in fact. ESPN’s Field Yates mock-drafted Verse to the Vikings two weeks ago, and it was not a first-of-its-kind transaction. Think of it this way: if the Vikings don’t use their first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft, whether organically at No. 11 or via trade, on a quarterback, Verse could rather realistically end up a Viking.

Flores Flourish
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Josh Frey, editor of PurplePTSD, a sister-site to VikingsTerritoryrecently described Verse, “You won’t find too many pass rushers that surpass Verse in terms of athletic ability. He has it all. He is explosive off the line of scrimmage, can maneuver his way around blockers with ease, and his acceleration is impressive while in pursuit of ball carriers. Verse also has an incredible motor that allows him to wear down offensive lines over the course of a game. An example of this came against the Florida Gators, where Verse recorded a pair of sacks and a forced fumble in the final minutes to help seal a win.”

The Vikings haven’t used 1st- or 2nd-Round draft capital on an EDGE rusher since 2005. Yes, it’s been that long.

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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