There’s a Recurring Player for Vikings in Mock Drafts — and It’s not a QB.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Finding a new quarterback is the theme in Vikings circles. Folks are trying to figure out which passers can fall to the 11th overall pick or what it would cost to trade up into the top portion of the first round. Drafting a new signal-caller is certainly worth a thought, with Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall as the only QBs on the roster with Kirk Cousins scheduled to leave in free agency.

There’s a Recurring Player for Vikings in Mock Drafts–And It’s not a QB.

 a Recurring Player for Vikings in Mock Drafts--And It's not a QB
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) is sacked hard by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) in the second quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

But the most important position isn’t the only spot GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could entertain in April’s draft, as there are some holes on defense. Brian Flores was signed to overhaul the defense after a horrendous previous season, and overall, he surely did. However, the defense regressed at the end of the year and looked eerily similar to last year’s group.

In addition, free agency will also claim some defenders, most notably edge-rusher Danielle Hunter and his teammates Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum, leaving Andre Carter and Patrick Jones as the only pass-rushers on the roster. Unless the Vikes can fix the position via contract extensions or free-agent signings, adding an outside linebacker in the draft makes sense.

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The same thought had Connor Livesay from The 33rd Team and CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards, who both sent help for Minnesota’s defense in their respective mock drafts, foreseeing Kwesi Adofo-Mensah drafting Laiatu Latu, pass-rusher from UCLA. He fills a need and is a fantastic talent.

Marcus Davenport and Danielle Hunter are both free agents at season’s end. If Minnesota does not retain both, then they may need Laiatu Latu to provide some immediate pass-rush production.

Josh Edwards

Latu produced 10.5 sacks in 2022, followed by 13 sacks in 2023, while also adding a total of 34 tackles for loss. Those two campaigns came after he transferred to UCLA after starting his collegiate career at Washington. That transfer is concerning as Washington’s medical staff didn’t allow him to continue playing because of a neck injury. The Huskies’ head coach announced the player had retired. Only after transferring to UCLA was Latu cleared to resume his career.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings head into the offseason looking for impact defenders. Laiatu Latu is in the race for Edge1 and is the definition of an impact defender when healthy and on the field. If medicals check out for Latu, expect him to be a borderline top-10 pick and see the field often in his rookie year.

Connor Livesay

The medicals are certainly the big question for him as Adofo-Mensah needs someone who can be with the organization for years to come without the added fear that an injury could end his tenure prematurely. Minnesota is not quite in the position to throw draft picks at risky players, unlike some loaded teams with draft picks at the end of the first round.

If his medicals come back positive, Latu could be a great find. The Cowboys selected Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick three years ago, and he has been a true franchise-changing player. If Latu can provide that, he would undoubtedly be worth the 11th overall pick.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The most likely scenario is the selection of a new franchise quarterback, but adding some defensive help is also intriguing. With multiple directions to go and some excellent players available at pick 11, it will be a fascinating draft for the Vikings.

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