5 Defensive Linemen the Vikings Could Land on Day 3

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All the focus around this year’s draft is on the Minnesota Vikings landing a quarterback in the first round. Currently sitting with two first-round picks — 11th and 23rd overall — the Vikings might need to package both in a trade to move up for a QB. That would leave Minnesota not picking again until pick 108. That’s a long wait, and with plenty of other areas on the roster that need attention, Kwesi Asofo-Mensah and his team will need to make their seven selections on Day 3 of the draft count.

5 Defensive Linemen the Vikings Could Land on Day 3

One key area that still raises many questions is the defensive line. Harrison Phillips is Minnesota’s main man in the middle, but the supporting cast once again raises concerns. Jonathan Bullard has returned and is a solid pro. Minnesota will hope Jaquelin Roy can build on a relatively quiet rookie campaign. Dean Lowry and Khyiris Tonga have left and been replaced by free-agent signings Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams.

Tillery was the 28th overall pick in 2019 but has never lived up to that billing. As a pass rush specialist, Brian Flores could be the man to get the most out of his skillset — that’s what the Vikings will be banking on. However, the Vikings need more, and I expect them to look to the draft to add to the ranks. There could be some good options on the board when the Vikings are on the clock for pick 108. I believe five options would make an excellent addition to the Vikings roster.

DeWayne Carter (Duke)

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DeWayne Carter is a versatile, smart, and consistent football player who projects as a rotational defender with the potential to develop into a starter. Carter has several pass-rush moves in his arsenal and is solid against the run. Carter is an intriguing prospect with a wide, stout, and well-leveraged frame with superb mass and proportional length. He might not make it to the fourth round, but if he does, he’s a player worth trading up a few places for.

Khristian Boyd (Northern Iowa)

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Khristian Boyd has been a popular man in the pre-draft process. After not receiving an invite to the combine, teams have been queuing up to invite him for a top-30 visit, including Minnesota, which is due to host the defensive tackle later this week.

The 6’4,’ 317-pound Boyd has six seasons of college experience. He may have played at a small school but has been getting NFL buzz since using his push-pull move to win a bunch of reps at the Shrine Bowl. Boyd has real “sleeper” potential, hence the swarm of teams around him as we approach the draft. With two picks in the fourth round, the Vikings could be well-placed to make a move for him. When Day 3 of the drafts starts, Boyd will be a name to keep an eye on.

Leonard Taylor III (Miami)

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Leonard Taylor’s draft stock has been trending in the wrong direction over the last year. Once projected as a first-round talent, he could now be available to Minnesota in the fourth round. Consistency is the knock on Taylor, while he has the explosive athleticism to be an impact player as an interior pass rusher and solid run defender. Development is needed to unlock the consistency he failed to find during college. Taylor’s potential fall into the fourth round could be a blessing for Minnesota.

McKinnley Jackson (Texas A&M)

Texas A&M’s McKinnley Jackson addresses the media at the 2023 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days at the Nashville Grand Hyatt on Broadway, Monday, July 17, 2023. © Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Despite being the heaviest man on this list (330 lbs), McKinnley Jackson succeeds by being a slippery, gap-penetrating defensive lineman. His game is about speed, gaining quick penetration from a fast first step. His size means he can take on nose tackle duties as well as play three-technique. A role as the “big guy” on obvious passing downs would be a suitable role early in his career. The big Asterix against Jackson is his short arms, which caused inconsistency in his game at the college level, and he will do the same in the pro ranks.

Maason Smith (LSU)

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There are two LSU defensive linemen projected as fifth-round draft picks. Mekhi Wingo is a sub-300-lb lineman who has made highlight plays, both for the good and the bad. However, his teammate Maason Smith intrigues me more.

At 6’6 and 315 lbs, Smith is the size and length the NFL teams are looking for. An ACL injury in 2022 means Smith is relatively inexperienced and will be drafted as a physically gifted developmental prospect. He currently relies on his athleticism and explosiveness but needs to develop the fundamentals and round out his game to become a starting-caliber player in the NFL.