The 7 Most Likely Rookies to Be Drafted by Vikings in R1

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Some 15 weeks of the Minnesota Vikings’ offseason are in the rearview, with free agency basically over, and the 2024 NFL Draft four days away.

The 7 Most Likely Rookies to Be Drafted by Vikings in R1

The club has onboarded 14 new free agents, re-signed seven internal players, and even delivered a monster trade five weeks ago in preparation for the draft, which will feel like a grand climax. All Vikings fans’ attention has turned to the draft, and rightfully so. The organization needs a quarterback of the future after Kirk Cousins departed for the Atlanta Falcons in March.

So, with the NFL draft mere days away, these are the seven likeliest players to end up in purple from Round 1, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most likely draft pick in Round 1).

7. Bo Nix (QB)

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Left for dead by Vikings fans in the last couple of months, sportsbooks dragged Nix’s odds of becoming a Viking to +450 this week (up from about +900). If Minnesota cannot press the button on a trade up the board for one of the other men on the list, well, it might be “stuck” with Nix. Stay tuned.

6. Quinyon Mitchell (CB)

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Many purple and gold fans want Minnesota to stick-and-pick and No. 11 for the best player on the board, regardless of position. At that spot in the draft, Quinyon Mitchell might be available, and the Vikings arguably need help at CB.

Mitchell will bedazzle his soon-to-be employer, and if everyone has overblown this quarterback thing for Minnesota, perhaps he’ll make Minneapolis his new home address.

5. Michael Penix Jr. (QB)

Minnesota Reemerges
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A quite a bit of smoke existed for Penix Jr. to the Vikings — before the College Football National Championship. But his draft stock plunged after that game, and J.J. McCarthy’s skyrocketed. There’s always a chance, however, that Minnesota loves Penix Jr. behind the scenes and makes him the pick at No. 11.

Penix Jr. isn’t incredibly accurate like other quarterbacks in this draft class, and Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell covets that trait in his quarterbacks. Still, Penix Jr. to Minnesota must be included on the list because of the Vikings’ quarterback draft need.

4. Byron Murphy II (DT)

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Minnesota truly struck out at defensive tackle during free agency, evidently chasing on Christian Wilkins but ultimately losing to the Las Vegas Raiders. In return, it signed Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams.

There’s a slim chance that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sticks-and-picks, selecting a defensive tackle — like Murphy II — at No. 11 and Penix Jr. (listed above) at No. 23. If the Vikings don’t land a promising rookie DT or trade for one before the start of the regular season, that spot will be at the top of everyone’s wish lists next offseason.

Think of it this way: should the Vikings surprise everyone and not draft a quarterback first on April 25th, the alternative will probably be the best defensive tackle in the draft. Most consider Murphy II just that.

3. Jayden Daniels (QB)

New Fox Sports
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“He’s gonna get the ball out to his playmakers and make plays for Washington,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly told reporters about Daniels’ upside at LSU’s Pro Day a few weeks ago.

The man presumably spilled the beans, suggesting Daniels is heading to Washington. Nevertheless, if Kelly and sportsbooks are incorrect, Minnesota still has a puncher’s chance at landing the extremely mobile passer. To net Daniels, Adofo-Mensah would have to hope that Washington swerves and drafts Drake Maye, leaving the Vikings to do business with New England, and badda bing, a Daniels-to-Minnesota resolution.

This is the no-frills way to think of it: Minnesota will probably leave the draft with one of the Top 4 quarterback prospects not named Caleb Williams, so Daniels checks in at No. 3 here.

2. Drake Maye (QB)
North Carolina

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Because the Vikings pulled off an unforeseen trade two weeks ago, grabbing an additional 1st-Round pick from the Houston Texans while offloading two 2nd-Rounders in the deal, plus a late-round pick swap, Maye is attainable.

Maye to Minnesota — or Mayennesota — felt like a fairy tale in January.

But not anymore. Minnesota owns extra draft capital and can move up for Maye, especially after hiring one of his high school coaches in Josh McCown. The next quarterback feels like a binary choice, at least among fans, between Dake Maye and the next man on the list.

1. J.J. McCarthy (QB)

Draft Prediction
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If Vegas is on point, McCarthy will quarterback the Vikings during life after Kirk Cousins. Minnesota is the odds-on favorite for the arrangement.

McCarthy should be gettable through trade with the Arizona Cardinals (Pick No. 4) or Los Angeles Chargers (Pick No. 5) — unless the draft steam is real, and he goes second or third overall — meaning the Vikings will have to donate two 1st-Rounders, not three, for McCarthy’s services.

If McCarthy is the fourth passer off the board, he’s the most easily accessible for the Vikings, a team owning the 11th and 23rd picks. Vegas agrees, with the Vikings’ odds around +160 for McCarthy.

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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