Vikings GM Gets His Flowers for 2023 Draft Class

The Time Is Now if Vikings Want to Make Trades
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

A large portion of Minnesota Vikings fans spend ample time lamenting the team’s 2022 draft class, mainly because defensive backs Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth have yet to emerge as starters.

Vikings GM Gets His Flowers for 2023 Draft Class

Cine broke his leg in October 2022, and a healthy section of the fanbase directly blamed general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for the injury and Cine’s subsequent setback. The reasoning never really made sense, but folks don’t need reasoning on social media.

vikings gm
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Booth, on the other hand, played well in limited action last season after an injury-riddled rookie campaign. It remains to be seen, though, if Booth can grab a starter’s job in 2024. Stay tuned.

But on 2023 rookies, well, Adofo-Mensah got his flowers this week from Pro Football Focus. According to the sports-grading outfit, the Vikings showcased the NFL’s sixth-most productive rookie class, highlighted by wide receiver Jordan Addison, linebacker Ivan Pace, and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon.

Week Is an Early
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) does a Lambeau Leap with Vikings fans Craig Lindsay, Nick Johnson and Chris Gangl against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, October 29, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Vikings won the game, 24-10. © Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK.

PFF’s Timo Riske wrote, “Jordan Addison wasn’t super efficient on a per-route basis, but he stepped up in Justin Jefferson’s absence and was one of two rookies to catch double-digit touchdown passes. Ivan Pace Jr. turned out to be the perfect linebacker for Brian Flores, and Mekhi Blackmon had a solid rookie season.”

Riske also outlined some of the Vikings rookies’ statistics: “CB Mekhi Blackmon (71.8 coverage grade, 0.94 yards per coverage snap) | WR Jordan Addison (1.42 yards per route run, 69.7 receiving grade, 10 rec TDs) | LB Ivan Pace Jr. (77.1 coverage grade, 78.0 pass-rush grade, 22.9% pass-rush win rate).”

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

All told, purple rookies played 2,335 snaps in 2023.

On the production, Addison was a total revelation, developing immediate rapport with then-quarterback Kirk Cousins. Before Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud totally blossomed midseason, Addison was whispered in the Offensive Rookie of the Year rumor mill. However, when Joshua Dobbs took over following Cousins’ Achilles tear, Addison’s output plunged because Dobbs was not a savant at pushing the ball downfield.

Pace Jr., of course, seized a starter’s job right away, sidelining second-year linebacker Brian Asamoah. Overall, Pace Jr. was the NFL’s 16th-best linebacker among veterans per PFF and the single best of all rookies.

Blackmon Ready
Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports.

And for Blackmon, he emerged as a playable contributor, mixed and matched in the secondary with veterans Byron Murphy and Akayleb Evans. PFF deemed Blackmon the league’s 32nd-best corner in 2023, an impressive feat as 90 see substantial action on any given Sunday.

Adofo-Mensah will get another chance to draft a sweet batch of rookies in 23 days.

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