Mel Kiper Predicts Vikings Draft Pick

Mel Kiper Taps 2 Prospects for Vikings in Latest 2-Round Mock Draft
Mel Kiper

The Minnesota Vikings enter a crucial period in the franchise’s history as they are set to select a quarterback in the top round for the first time in a decade. This could be the team’s first quarterback choice within the first ten draft picks. Ever since acquiring the 23rd overall pick, the Vikings are widely expected to make the splashy move and climb the draft board.

Mel Kiper Predicts Vikings Draft Pick

Mel Kiper Predicts Vikings Draft Pick
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

USC’s star passer, Caleb Williams, is the presumed first overall pick and will attempt to become the first player in Chicago’s long history to eclipse the 4,000 passing yards in a season. LSU’s Jayden Daniels has usurped North Carolina’s Drake Maye as the most popular second-overall pick.

That leaves Maye and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy as the two guys who could land in Minnesota. Minnesota’s choice depends on whether the Patriots are willing to trade down and, if not, who New England prefers.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. presented his latest mock draft. His vision for Minnesota is a trade with Jim Harbaugh’s Chargers for their fifth pick. In return, the Chargers receive picks 11 and 23 in 2024 and next year’s first-rounder.

Vikings mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Indiana during the second half of U-M’s 52-7 win over Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Ann Arbor. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

That could be a costly asset to give up as next year’s top pick could be early in the draft as the Vikings’ projected win total was set at 6.5. Regardless, a franchise quarterback is worth it; GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah just needs to find him. In Kiper’s opinion, McCarthy is that guy for the Vikes.

At this point in the process, based on everything I’ve heard, I don’t think the Vikings can afford to wait until No. 11 if they want one of the top four quarterbacks. They’re going to have to trade up. Are they giving up too much? It’s certainly possible. But if they believe McCarthy can be their long-term Kirk Cousins replacement, shouldn’t they be OK with sending out their 2025 first-rounder?

Mel Kiper Jr.

McCarthy is a fascinating story in this year’s draft coverage. When the college football season ended, he was viewed as a mid-first-rounder; the Vikings could’ve snatched him with the 11th overall pick. As time went on, however, he has been rising in rankings. Draft pundits hear from teams, and if one thing has been evident over the last few months, it is that teams love McCarthy more than the casual fan.

The reason for that trend is apparent. Everyone who watched a couple of McCarthy’s contests in college, including the playoff games, saw a handoff machine carried by the running game and the defense for most of the games.

Forced by Broncos
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Teams, on the other hand, watch his film and analyze his skill set and mindset. And they like what they see. The passer offers intriguing athleticism. His speed will keep defenses on their heels, although he is not a running quarterback. At the draft combine, he showed off a surprisingly strong arm, which he primarily features on intermediate throws instead of deep bombs. Drawing praise is also his poise in the pocket.

Kiper can see the flashes and thinks the 21-year-old could be productive early in Minnesota.

I have McCarthy at No. 14 on my Big Board, but I can see on tape why a team might take him in the top five. He has intriguing physical traits and took a huge step forward as a precision passer in 2023. In Minnesota, with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson catching his passes, he would have the playmakers around him to succeed as a rookie.

Mel Kiper Jr.
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Having respectable surroundings is crucial for any quarterback, and Minnesota’s supporting cast is among the best in the NFL. Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson form a dream receiving corps, and the presence of top tackles Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill is also helpful. Often forgotten but extremely important for a young passer is the guidance of the coaching staff, and former NFL quarterbacks Kevin O’Connell and Josh McCown would undoubtedly benefit McCarthy’s development.

The draft will kick off on April 25. Less than one hour into the event, Skol Nation will know if one of the top passers in the draft class will be their new signal-caller.

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