Mel Kiper’s 1st Mock Draft Is a Head Scratcher for Vikings

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE.

Stop if you’ve heard this before: The Minnesota Vikings need a cornerback in the 1st Round of an NFL Draft.

That’s the word from ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who published his first mock draft of the 2024 cycle this week. Many Vikings fans expect the club to, alas, draft a quarterback in the 1st Round, but for Kiper, that’s a no-go.

Mel Kiper’s 1st Mock Draft Is a Head Scratcher for Vikings

Kiper landed on Clemson corner Nate Wiggins for the Vikings, the first CB off the board and the consensus best at his position in April’s draft.

Draft Is a Head
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports.

He explained, “In my final mock ahead of the 2023 draft, I projected the Vikings taking a cornerback. Instead, they went with wide receiver Jordan Addison, who had a fantastic rookie season, catching 10 touchdown passes. That need in the secondary still exists. Minnesota ranked 28th in passing yards allowed to receivers last season (3,019), and 2022 second-rounder Andrew Booth Jr. hasn’t quite figured things out. Let’s go back to Clemson — Booth’s former school — with the selection of Wiggins here. Wiggins was a lockdown defender in 2023, allowing just 4.2 yards per attempt as the nearest defender in coverage.”

Heading into 2024, the Vikings have these cornerbacks under contract:

  • Byron Murphy
  • Mekhi Blackmon
  • Andrew Booth
  • Akayleb Evans
  • Najee Thompson
  • Joejuan Williams
  • Jaylin Williams
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings’ defense ranked 32nd in the NFL per completion percentage allowed, also known as last place.

Kiper continued, “Could the Vikings take a quarterback? For sure. Kirk Cousins is a free agent, and I don’t think rookie fifth-rounder Jaren Hall will be the guy long-term. At this point, though, the most likely option might be running it back with Cousins, so adding a starter on defense makes more sense. This obviously could change as we learn more about general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s plans.”

Undersell the Vikings
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Minnesota has an almighty decision on Kirk Cousins in the next seven weeks — extend him for a year or two or draft the quarterback of the future. Cousins tore his Achilles last October and will be 36 when the 2024 regular season rolls around. His future with the Vikings is truly a coinflip.

The Draft Network‘s Damian Parson described Wiggins’ profile in January, “Nate Wiggins has the look of an outside/perimeter cornerback. The combination of height, arm length, and instincts are the base of his intrigue. Wiggins plays mostly off-man and Cover 3 zone coverage. He has a smooth and comfortable press bail and bail drop as he enters his designated area in coverage. Wiggins does a good job carrying vertical routes down the field and maintaining positioning to make a play at the breakpoint.”

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The Vikings have used 1st-Round draft capital on cornerbacks in 2013, 2015, 2018, and 2020. They also spent a 2nd-Rounder on the aforementioned Booth in 2022.

The 2024 NFL Draft is 93 days 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).

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