The Vikings’ Last 5 Drafts — Ranked

justin jefferson
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The Minnesota Vikings haven’t really hit on impact defenders since the 2015 NFL Draft, a remarkably long shortage, especially with Mike Zimmer in the building from 2014 to 2021. This go-round, the club also needs a quarterback after Kirk Cousins left in March for the Atlanta Falcons.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will encounter his third draft as the guy in charge on Thursday night — and must nail this one for Minnesota’s future to glisten after parting ways with Cousins.

The Vikings’ Last 5 Drafts — Ranked

Let’s take a look back at Minnesota’s last five drafts, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = best).

5. 2019

Vikings
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Key Contributors:
Garrett Bradbury (C), Alexander Mattison (RB), Irv Smith (TE), Oli Udoh (OT), Kris Boyd (CB)

This draft had oodles of promise, chiefly because Vikings fans believed Irv Smith Jr. would transform into the next big thing.

He didn’t.

Additionally, drafting a center in Round 1 is infrequent, and if a team is willing to do it, the subsequent draft pick should become a Pro Bowler or All-Pro. Bradbury has done neither. Centers can typically be discovered after Round 1 unless the man is considered “generational.”

Some decent depth dribbled out with Mattison, Udoh, and Boyd, but the draft wasn’t very rewarding in retrospect.

4. 2022

Ingram Starting
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Key Contributors:
Ed Ingram (RG), Brian Asamoah (LB), Jalen Nailor (WR), Lewis Cine (S), Andrew Booth (CB), Akayleb Evans (CB), Ty Chandler (RB)

Many will balk at this draft “so high” on the list, and the critique is somewhat fair. Drafts cannot be truly adjudicated until years down the road, but this class is in limbo.

Ingram has started for two years in a row. The rest are maybes — all encountering pivot Years No. 3 in the league this fall.

A faction of purple and gold fans didn’t like this draft and have since decried Cine and Booth as busts, but it’s a bit early to determine that in finality. After this season, clearer verdicts on Cine and Booth, especially, can be rendered.

Plus, the 2019 draft was pretty bad-bad. So was 2018, for those curious.

3. 2023

Draft Grade from Last
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Key Contributors:
Jordan Addison (WR), Ivan Pace Jr. (LB), Mekhi Blackmon (CB)

Mainly because the previous two drafts on the list were so blah or to-be-determined, the 2023 version hopped off to a sweet start due to Addison and Pace Jr., with a side dish of Blackmon,

Addison cooked with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, only cooled off by the midseason transitions to Joshua Dobbs after Cousins’ injury. Pace Jr., too, played tremendously and is firmly on tap to start in 2024, as he did as a rookie.

Blackmon, overall, performed well in Year No. 1 and could be sitting on a breakout campaign this autumn.

2. 2021

Hendon Hooker Already
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Key Contributors:
Christian Darrisaw (LT), Camryn Bynum (FS), Kene Nwangwu (RB), Patrick Jones (OLB)

Netting Darrisaw was a franchise changer. He joined Brian O’Neill on Minnesota’s offensive line as a bookend, and now the team is set for the next few years at offensive tackle — a tremendous luxury.

Bynum has played extensive snaps and garnered fringe Pro Bowl consideration in 2023. Nwangwu is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the sport, if not the scariest. Jones, an EDGE rusher, performed decently at times in limited sample size during the last few seasons.

Generally speaking, though, this is the Darrisaw Draft. If only the Vikings had hit on Kellen Mond, Wyatt Davis, Chazz Surratt, or Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

1. 2020

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Key Contributors:
Justin Jefferson (WR), Ezra Cleveland (RG), K.J. Osborn (WR), D.J. Wonnum (OLB)

This draft was fabulous — not just by Vikings standards but by the NFL’s measuring stick.

Jefferson is carving a path to the Hall of Fame, a mind-boggling projection that somehow doesn’t feel weird after four seasons. Minnesota showcased horrid left guard play before it discovered Cleveland, and he locked down the spot until a trade last season. Osborn finally solved Minnesota’s WR3 woes from 2021-2023.

This one takes the cake, and it’s not debatable. It was the Vikings’ best draft since 2015.


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 MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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