Vikings Reportedly Interested in These 2 Draft Prospects

in Particular Rookie
Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason is unpredictable as it is entirely unknown how the Vikings will deal with their pending free agents, Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. Their fate determines how aggressive the purple team must and will look for their successors, with no clear heir apparent in the building. While the organization should have an idea of what will happen to them, the draft is a mystery for them, like for all other 31 teams.

Vikings Reportedly Interested in These 2 Draft Prospects

Vikings Reportedly Interested in These 2 Draft Prospects
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah enters the offseason with a bunch of holes in his roster. The aforementioned premium positions, quarterback and edge-rusher, must be addressed. Also in need of an upgrade are the defensive line and the running back room. Many fans also desire a new lockdown cornerback, as Minnesota’s last one was Xavier Rhodes half a dozen years ago.

With the top quarterbacks likely out of reach for the Vikings, who own the 11th overall pick, they might be looking defense with their top selection. Two rumored players are Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II and Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell.

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Alec Lewis mentioned Mitchell’s name from The Athletic, who reported various interesting observations from the Senior Bowl. Just last year, the Vikings drafted a bunch of players they had met at the Senior Bowl, and according to him, the purple team’s coaches “chatted” with the prospect:

After Thursday morning’s session, however, Flores and multiple Vikings defensive coaches chatted with cornerback Quinyon Mitchell, who has arguably been the best defender in Mobile this week. The 6-foot, 195-pound corner has the total package: size, speed, swagger and skill.

Toledo focused its teaching of defensive backs on techniques that can be applied against receivers in varying schemes. The approach mirrors that of Flores, which is what would make Mitchell such a fine fit for the Vikings.

Alec Lewis, The Athletic

It is too early to name the best cornerback in the draft class, but Mitchell ensured his name would be included in the discussion after showcasing his talent all week. As Lewis alluded, he is the total package of size, athleticism, and cover skills.

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Weaknesses aren’t easy to find. If there’s something to complain about, the cornerback is an aggressive defender who likes to play the receiver when the ball arrives, something that might cost him some penalties early in his career, and he needs to refine his tackle form.

Following the shortened COVID season in 2020, he shined in the last three campaigns in Toledo’s defense, playing in 39 games and recording 7.5 sacks and 116 tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked at the top of last season’s FBS cornerbacks. He was also the only cornerback in the nation that logged at least an 85 grade in both man and zone coverage. Last year, the Vikings drafted Mekhi Blackmon, who also recorded that feature as the only one next to top-five pick Devon Witherspoon.

With Byron Murphy, the Vikes employ one excellent starting cornerback. His teammates, Akayleb Evans, Blackmon, and Andrew Booth, are still unproven and up-and-down players. Having another decent cornerback could elevate Brian Flores’ defense, and everything about Mitchell screams can’t miss prospect.

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Flores would surely like an upgrade in the defensive backfield, but he would also like an addition to his defensive line, someone who can wreak plays in the offensive backfield. That guy could be Byron Murphy, not related to Minnesota’s cornerback.

The Texas defensive tackle has been a fast riser on draft boards. Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline reported in his insider notes:

Murphy has been soaring up draft boards recently, and I mean flying. Word circulating during Shrine Bowl practices was that Murphy would be a top-20 pick and may not make it past the 15th selection.

The Minnesota Vikings, who desperately need a defensive tackle, are said to have a lot of interest in Murphy. The insanely athletic defender, who is expected to test off the charts at the combine, would be a terrific fit for the Vikings defensive scheme.

Tony Pauline, Sportskeeda

The Vikings haven’t drafted a defensive lineman in the first round in over a decade. Sharrif Floyd in 2013 was the last one. That explains the state of the defensive line that only has run-stuffer Harrison Phillips as the only difference-maker.

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.

Having someone up front who can ruin plays would be a great change. And that’s what Murphy does best. Texas had one of the nation’s top defensive fronts, helping the program return to relevancy and even earn a playoff bid. Murphy was a big reason for all of that. In 2023, the defender produced 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks.

He offers the pass-rush skills the Vikings lack on their defensive line, which is filled with run defenders, but he is just as disruptive against the run. Perhaps the best defensive tackle in the class, Murphy brings versatility to the table and can line up as a nose tackle, defensive end, and even as an occasional outside rusher. Versatility is vital for defensive coordinator Flores, who confuses offenses by confronting them with strange lineups.

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.

Bleacher Report’s scouting department wrote about the defender: “Murphy’s get-off and overall quickness are what pops off the tape at first, especially for his size. The 308-pounder either gets into offensive linemen shortly after the snap or uses his impressive agility and quickness to beat guards across their faces when slanting. He also has good pad level and tree trunks for legs that make him hard to move.”

If the Vikings re-sign one of Hunter and Cousins (or sign replacements in free agency), they have the free choice of which position they want to address, and selecting a game-changing defender could be a decent option. Murphy and Mitchell will be taken into consideration in April’s draft.

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