Vikings Reportedly Have a Plan B for Draft

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Free agency has been a busy time in the Vikings universe as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made a plethora of moves. Standing out are the signings of defenders Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard. The duo will form the new pass-rushing tandem on Minnesota’s edges. On offense, running back Aaron Jones is certainly the most prominent addition with new QB Sam Darnold.

Vikings Reportedly Have a Plan B for Draft

Vikings Reportedly Have a Plan B for Draft
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Darnold’s arrival earned some mixed feelings from Vikings fans. Replacing Kirk Cousins by acquiring a former third-overall pick who can safely labeled as a bust is not a promising move. While it’s still possible to turn into a decent passer at age 26, Darnold is unlikely to be a long-term solution. That’s why drafting a signal-caller on April 25 is crucial for the franchise.

Adofo-Mensah flipped a pair of second-rounders to add more ammo in this year’s draft. The newly obtained 23rd overall pick and the organic 11th overall pick are envisioned to be packaged in exchange for a top-five draft choice that would land QB J.J. McCarthy out of Michigan. Jayden Daniels (LSU) or Drake Maye (North Carolina) are also in play, depending on who is drafted after presumed first-overall QB Caleb Williams and which pick the Vikings could get in return.

in Particular Rookie
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But what if Adofo-Mensah can’t find a trade partner, and the top four passers are off the board? He must plan for that possibility, and according to insider Tony Pauline from Sportskeeda, he has a draft target in that case. Reporting from Texas’ Pro Day, he once again mentioned defensive tackle Byron Murphy as a player the Vikings enjoy.

Defensive tackle Byron Murphy, looking like Mr. Universe as he worked out shirtless, looked terrific in drills, just as he did during the combine. The Bears, Falcons and Colts met Murphy the last two days, as did the Vikings.

Word since the Shrine Bowl was that the Vikings would take Murphy with the 11th pick of Round 1. Obviously the focus has shifted to the quarterback position. Yet the feeling they were giving off at pro day is that Murphy would be their contingency plan at 11 if no signal caller is available.

Tony Pauline
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.

Murphy, not related to Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy Jr, has been a riser in this draft cycle. Starting as a potential second-rounder, late-season and early-offseason buzz has elevated him into the top half of the first round.

Good defensive tackles are hard to find outside of the first 32 picks, and Murphy certainly has the potential to be one of the better players at the position. He is coming off his best season, producing 5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 29 total tackles — all career highs. The strong defensive line was a big reason why the Longhorns returned to relevancy and even earned a trip into the playoffs.

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. draft scout Lance Zierlein wrote about the defender:

Muscular ball of explosiveness with the tools and talent to become a productive three-down defender in the right scheme. Twitchy first-step quickness combined with flexion and power in his lower half create a recipe for disruption as a gap shooter or as a pass rusher. Murphy is powerful and well-schooled at taking on double-teams but lacks ideal mass and length for that role long-term.

He’s successful at bypassing protection with sudden hands and quick feet, while his motor and passion create an activity level coaches will love. Forget the average physical traits and modest production and focus on his competitive spirit and disruptive qualities. Murphy is ascending and could become a successful nose tackle or 3-technique in an even front.

Lance Zierlein

Murphy has drawn comparisons to Grady Jarrett and Ed Oliver, two of the better interior defenders in the league, and exactly what the Vikings lack upfront — a disruptive defensive lineman. His quickness would provide a nice spark.

Other than Harrison Phillips, Minnesota had several rotational players last season, but none of them could get after the quarterback. In free agency, Adofo-Mensah couldn’t lure one of the top guys, Christian Wilkins, Arik Armstead, D.J. Reader, or Grover Stewart, to U.S. Bank Stadium, and it remains to be seen if veterans Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams are actually upgrades. Also employed are 2023 rookie Jaquelin Roy and experienced defender Jonathan Bullard.

Minnesota Reemerges
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Drafting Murphy 11th would be a solid consolation prize if the top four QBs are inaccessible because he is a decent prospect at a position of need. A new passer could still be acquired with the 23rd pick, but selecting Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. or Oregon’s Bo Nix could feel like settling instead of the big splash most fans desire.

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