This Could Be Vikings’ Draft Contingency Plan

Historically Accurate Draft Analyst Predicts Vikings Pick
2021 NFL Draft

Pull up any mock draft within the last week, and it will illustrate a quarterback as the Minnesota Vikings’ 1st-Round draft plan.

Vikings Draft: This Could Be the Contingency Plan

That’s the common sentiment after general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah shipped two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap seven days ago.

Vikings Draft
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

And while that will likely occur — the Vikings choosing a quarterback in less than five weeks, probably North Carolina’s Drake Maye or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy — some have whispered a contingency plan involving a defensive player. Minnesota holds the 11th and 23rd overall picks and, in theory, could splurge on defense at No. 11 if it missed out on a Top 4 quarterback prospect.

One man, in particular, could be on deck at No. 11: Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II.

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. © Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Vikings already employ another Byron Murphy, a cornerback signed from free agency one year ago. Minnesota would double up on defensive Byron Murphies in this scenario, hoping to build on defensive improvement from 2022 to 2023. SportsKeeda’s Tony Pauline detailed this week, “The feeling the Vikings were giving off at pro day is that Murphy would be their contingency plan at 11 if no signal-caller is available.”

Drafting Murphy II would assuredly disappoint some, but not because of the player personally. It would have meant that the Vikings struck out on the aforementioned Maye or McCarthy, instead pivoting to a defender at No. 11.

a Wild Free
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Thereafter, Minnesota would presumably use the 23rd selection on a quarterback, likely Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. or Oregon’s Bo Nix. If Penix Jr. didn’t have a lengthy injury history, he might be a Top 10 prospect like Maye and McCarthy — or Caleb Williams (USC) and Jayden Daniels (LSU).

Pauline also wrote in January, “The Minnesota Vikings, who desperately need a defensive tackle, are said to have a lot of interest in Murphy. The insanely athletic defender, who is expected to test off the charts at the combine, would be a terrific fit for the Vikings defensive scheme.”

Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) defends against Iowa State offensive lineman Jim Bonifas (63) and Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht (3) in the second half of the Longhorns’ game against the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Texas won the game 26-16. © Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez describes Murphy II: “Murphy does a good job of immediately getting into a gap. Because he plays with low pad height, he makes it difficult for offensive linemen to get proper hand placement on him to stop his penetration. Murphy has plus-level functional strength and can knock offensive linemen’s hands down with hand counters.”

Per roster building, if selected by the Vikings, Murphy II would presumably slide into Jonathan Bullard’s spot from 2023 and represent the Vikings’ most significant DT upgrade since Sharrif Floyd or Sheldon Richardson.

And then fans would just have to hope Penix Jr. or Nix took care of the rest at QB1 in 2024 and beyond.

The NFL Draft is less than five weeks 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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by