Vikings Make Surprise Selection in Daniel Jeremiah’s Initial Mock Draft

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The Vikings have the 11th overall pick in April’s draft, putting general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in a prime position to pick either a quarterback or fill another hole with a fantastic prospect. There will be an excellent edge rusher on the board, and all three of Jared Verse, Dallas Turner, and Laiatu Latu have been linked to the Vikings.

Vikings Make Surprise Selection in Daniel Jeremiah’s Initial Mock Draft

At the quarterback position, the consensus opinion is that Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels are highly unlikely to drop to that spot, requiring a trade if Adofo-Mensah wants one of them.

Vikings Make Surprise Selection in Daniel Jeremiah's Initial Mock Draft
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Another roster hole is certainly the defensive line, and Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton is an early fan favorite as he is a wonderful pass-rusher. But draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah envisions a different player: Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy.

I believe Murphy is the top defensive tackle in the class. The Vikings need to add more firepower up front.

Daniel Jeremiah

Jeremiah’s mock drafts always highlight the pre-draft process, as he is one of the top draft pundits. And he is surely right; the Vikings need more firepower up front. Besides Harrison Phillips, who is a solid nose tackle, the purple team employs a bunch of rotational players but no real playmakers, which is why they were by far the worst team at generating pressure from the inside.

Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian greets Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) on senior night before the game against Texas Tech at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023.

Still, Murphy’s selection is quite surprising as he had been viewed primarily as a mid-to-late first-round pick from most other pundits, while they have Newton as a borderline top-ten pick. Jeremiah flipped that, sending Newton to Buffalo with pick 28 and Murphy to Minnesota at 11.

Texas had one of the nation’s top defensive fronts, helping the program back to relevancy and even earning a playoff bid. Murphy was a big reason for all of that. In 2023, the defender produced 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks.

Bleacher Report’s scouting department wrote about the 21-year-old:

After serving as a backup during his first two years at Texas, Byron Murphy II is a big riser in this year’s NFL draft class. He played up and down the Longhorns’ defensive line, lining up as far inside as a nose tackle to taking a few reps on the edge at defensive end. He also has a lot of potential against the run and as a pass-rusher.

Murphy’s get-off and overall quickness are what pops off the tape at first, especially for his size. The 308-pounder either gets into offensive linemen shortly after the snap or uses his impressive agility and quickness to beat guards across their faces when slanting. He also has good pad level and tree trunks for legs that make him hard to move.

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They also note that he lacks the ideal height for an NFL defensive tackle at 6’1″, and his pass-rush moves must be more consistent.

He can’t change the former, but the Vikings had quite the success with rookies that have size concerns, as it was the biggest knock on Ivan Pace and Jordan Addison, although that is a bigger problem in the trenches. The latter, however, can be coached, especially because Murphy is only 21; he shouldn’t be expected to be a perfect player from the get-go.

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The selection would also be quite funny, as the Vikings already employ a defender named Byron Murphy.

Murphy’s selection would immediately boost one of the largest weaknesses on the roster, but it prevents the Vikings from getting their quarterback of the future, and the outside linebacker position is another huge problem.

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