More Defense for Vikings in “33rd Team” Mock Draft

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The Minnesota Vikings own the draft’s 11th overall pick, an event that will shake down 12 weeks from tonight.

Minnesota is expected to target a quarterback, defensive tackle, EDGE rusher, or possibly corner per long-term roster need.

More Defense for Vikings in “33rd Team” Mock Draft

The draft community is split on the Vikings’ split, with many suggesting an impact defensive lineman, while some are convinced the club will draft a quarterback organically at No. 11 or conduct a massive trade into the Top 3 for Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels.

Well, left up to The 33rd Team, a think-tank NFL analysis site featuring former players, coaches, executives, and scouts, the Vikings will end up with a defensive tackle — Jer’Zhan Newton from the University of Illinois.

More Defense for Vikings
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In 2023, the Vikings employed Jonathan Bullard at “Newton’s spot,” and the Illinois alumnus would assuredly become an upgrade, at least per his scouting report. The 33rd Team’s Connor Livesay explained the pick, “Illinois DL Jer’Zhan Newton will be one of the most polarizing players in the 2024 NFL Draft. Despite his lack of size, Newton is one of the more disruptive defensive tackles in this class.”

Minnesota’s defense ranked 11th in 2023 per DVOA, significantly improving from No. 24 in 2022.

Ranking the Vikings' Needs Prior to Free Agency
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“Newton’s fit with Brian Flores and the Minnesota Vikings is ideal for a player who must be in the right position to succeed early in his career,” Livesay added.

No matter what, Vikings loyalists would eventually warm up to Newton — he’s a beast — but many believe or predict that Minnesota will use its 11th overall pick on a quarterback or trade up the board for a rookie passer. The Newton angle would save a rookie quarterback for later, whether in a later round in 2024 or sometime in 2025.

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Minnesota has Harrison Phillips and Jaquelin Roy under contract at Newton’s spot in 2024, while the aforementioned Bullard is scheduled to hit free agency. Newton would undoubtedly be a perk, as the Vikings have long glossed over DT needs next to Phillips or Linval Joseph (during the Mike Zimmer era). The club is typically content with players like Shamar Stephen, Armon Watts, or Bullard.

The Draft Network’s Damian Parson recently described Newton like this: “Jer’Zhan Newton is an active, quick-handed striker who lands punches with precision. His hand speed is impressive as he is both active as the aggressor and reactive as a counterpuncher. He has multiple techniques in his bag to defeat blocks quickly—cross-chops, double-hand swipes, hesitations, and swims, to name a few. Newton is an educated defender and pass rusher.”

Flores Flourish
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The only real knock on Newton might be size. He’s 6’2″ and 295 pounds, which isn’t humongous for a defensive tackle.

The Vikings haven’t spent 1st-Round draft capital on a defensive lineman since 2013 — Sharrif Floyd.

ESPN’s Jordan Reid mock-drafted Newton to the Vikings, as well, three weeks ago.

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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