Vikings Host Another Premiere Rookie Defender

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The Minnesota Vikings are diligently hosting players from various positions this week via Top 30 visit, including Alabama’s Dallas Turner (EDGE) and Toldeo’s Quinyon Mitchell (cornerback).

Vikings Host Another Premiere Rookie Defender

But that’s not all.

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The club met with UCLA’s Laiatu Latu this week, a mock draft darling among many NFL fans. NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday, “UCLA edge Laiatu Latu, one of the draft’s best pass rushers, is on a Top 30 visit to the Vikings today, source said. He was with the Bears yesterday and already met with the #Broncos, plus he has Cardinals tomorrow.”

Before Minnesota pulled off a trade in March, grabbing an additional 1st-Round pick from the Houston Texans while offloading two 2nd-Rounders in the deal, plus a late-round pick swap, Latu was a favorite of the draft community to land with the Vikings. But then Kirk Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons, and many theorized that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would use his fresh 1st-Round picks on a quarterback to replace him.

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Correspondingly, EDGE rushers like Latu, Jared Verse, and the aforementioned Turner slid off Minnesota’s draftboard, and most identified quarterbacks Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy as probable draft picks for the purple team. Stay tuned.

There’s always a chance that Adofo-Mensah “secretly” adores a different quarterback, like Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix. This would enable Minnesota to keep both first-round picks and spend one on an EDGE and the other on a quarterback. If that happened, the Vikings could reasonably draft Latu, for example, and Penix Jr. with their 11th and 23rd picks.

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If Minnesota turns Latu’s Top 30 visit into a draft pick, its EDGE room in 2024 would look like this:

  • Jonathan Greenard
  • Andrew Van Ginkel
  • Laiatu Latu
  • Patrick Jones II
  • Jihad Ward
  • Andre Carter II

Last month, the EDGEs of the Vikings line underwent significant change, losing Danielle Hunter to the Houston Texans, Marcus Davenport to the Detroit Lions, and D.J. Wonnum to the Carolina Panthers. It helped to sign Greenard and Van Ginkel from free agency, but Adofo-Mensah might need more depth. Latu would be that and then some.

Flores Flourish
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Josh Frey of PurplePTSD, a sister site to VikingsTerritory, wrote about Latu this week, “Latu does come with some risk. Just a couple years ago, he was forced to medically retire from football because of a neck injury while he was with the Washington Huskies. He sat out of the 2021 season, and it seemed like his football career was over. However, prior to the 2022 season, Latu decided to transfer to UCLA, and he was back on the field for the Bruins that fall. In two seasons at UCLA, he piled up a ridiculous 34 tackles for loss along with 23.5 sacks over the course of 25 games.”

Drafting Latu would end a 19-year drought in Minnesota: the franchise hasn’t selected an EDGE rusher in Rounds 1 or 2 of the draft since 2005 with Erasmus James.

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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