There’s a New Frontrunner for Vikings’ 11th Overall Pick

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After a disappointing 2023 season, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is under pressure to guide his franchise into a brighter future, leading to playoff appearances and, in the best case, a Super Bowl. The road to get there is controversial, as a considerable amount of the fan base wants a total rebuild. Adofo-Mensah, meanwhile, has made it clear that his preferred strategy is a competitive rebuild.

There’s a New Frontrunner for Vikings’ 11th Overall Pick

a New Frontrunner
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Throughout his tenure, he has tried acquiring younger players while freeing the franchise from aging veterans on hefty contracts. Kevin O’Connell’s operation remained in the playoff mix despite doing that.

The 2024 offseason is paramount for the organization’s future, as a new quarterback could be on the horizon with Kirk Cousins set to enter free agency. However, many believe the Vikings will address the defense. A pass rusher, a defensive tackle, and a cornerback are possible alternatives to a passer.

A common player sent to Minnesota in mock drafts is Florida State’s edge defender Jared Verse.

 a Frontrunner for Vikings' 11th Overall Pick
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports’s draft analyst Bucky Brooks has done it recently. He wrote about the defender and his fit:

Adding an athletic pass rusher to the lineup will enhance the Vikings’ aggressive schemes under Brian Flores. The Florida State standout flashes double-digit potential as a sack artist. 

Bucky Brooks

The Vikings surely need someone to get after the passer, as many players are entering free agency. Pro Bowl defender Danielle Hunter should be a hot commodity after posting 16.5 sacks in 2023, a career-high. He combines that with excellent run defense and is always a force at the line of scrimmage.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

His teammates Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum are also without a contract for next season. Davenport signed a one-year prove-it deal last year when he didn’t get the desired offers, but he, in fact, did not prove it, missing the majority of the season with a couple of injuries. Wonnum stepped into his place and tabulated career-high sack and tackle numbers.

With those guys possibly leaving, the Vikings will consider drafting a successor, perhaps even in the first round.

In two seasons at Florida State, Verse has produced nine sacks each season and 29.5 tackles for loss. He surely has the production that earns him top-ten consideration in the draft. He was named first-team All-American in each of the last two seasons.

Brentley Weissman from the Draft Network had an idea similar to Brooks’.

Minnesota is set to lose some key pass rushers this offseason to free agency and they would be wise to replenish the cupboard early in the 2024 draft. Jared Verse is an explosive and physical edge defender who has plenty of power to collapse the pocket. 

Brentley Weissman

The two remaining edge-defenders on the roster are Andre Carter, the undrafted rookie, and Patrick Jones, who is entering his fourth season with the organization. He was a 2021 third-round draft pick.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Other potential outside linebackers to target in the draft are Laiatu Latu and Dallas Turner, while defensive tackles Jer’Zhan Newton and Byron Murphy II could also be targeted. The fans eye the acquisition of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, but to get a hand on one of those exciting passers, Adofo-Mensah would probably have to trade up, leaving J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr. as more likely QB prospects.

Verse is regarded by many as the best pass-rusher in the class, and finding a top guy at a premium position is never a bad idea. Unless the Vikings address the QB position, Verse might be the most intriguing player to target.

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