Vikings Met with Multiple Heavy Hitters on Monday

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The Minnesota Vikings enter a vital stretch in their franchise’s history with the selection of a new quarterback approaching. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and his head coach Kevin O’Connell must find a successor to departed starter Kirk Cousins. To pull that off, they have acquired a second pick in the first round to trade up into the top picks of the draft to choose one of the elite quarterback prospects in the class.

Vikings Met with Multiple Heavy Hitters on Monday

Vikings Meet With Multiple Heavy Hitters on Monday
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Like all organizations, the Vikings have met with some prospects recently; the top quarterbacks were also on the meeting list. On Monday, however, the defense was the priority.

On this single day, the Vikings met with three of the best defenders in the 2024 draft, all of whom are potential options if they fail to land a passer.

Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II was the first reported visit by Ian Rapoport.

Murphy has been a player swirling around Minnesota’s rumor mill for months, and for good reason. The defender is precisely the missing piece for Brian Flores’ defensive unit.

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While the purple team has overhauled some areas of the group, the one specific area that still lacks talent is the defensive tackle group. In addition to his stout run defense, Murphy could aid the Vikings’ subpar interior pass rush.

Last season at Texas, Murphy logged five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, both career highs. His contributions up front helped the Longhorns regain relevancy and secured a playoff trip. Talented defensive tackles are rarely found outside of the top range of the draft, so picking the best one in the class makes sense, mainly because it is a position of need. At age 21, with excellent physical tools, Murphy possesses enormous upside and would be an immediate asset on the defensive front.

Similarly, a potential day-one contributor is Quinyon Mitchell, Toldeo’s standout cornerback.

Mitchell has been a riser in the draft process, shooting up the consensus draft board. He had a fantastic final season at Toledo, producing 41 tackles and one interception. His scouting report is more impressive than the numbers, as he offers many intriguing tools.

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The cornerback ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. Paired with his frame of six feet and 195 lbs, that is an excellent athletic profile. Draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote about the prospect:

Mitchell possesses a gumbo of traits, with size, strength and speed filling up the pot. He’s built like a running back, tackles like a safety and has the ball skills of a cornerback. Mitchell can play in a variety of coverages and was the clear-cut top cornerback at the Senior Bowl when working against the top receivers in practice.

Lance Zierlein

As none of the young cornerbacks, Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, and Mekhi Blackmon, have done enough to warrant a starting job, Shaquill Griffin was signed as insurance. He is a player who is capable of starting opposite cornerback Byron Murphy. The Vikings haven’t had a lockdown CB since the prime of Xavier Rhodes, but Mitchell has that kind of potential.

The following top defender in Eagan was Alabama’s star pass-rusher Dallas Turner.

As Pelissero mentioned, he is currently favored as the first defender off the board.

The Vikings overhauled the pass-rushing group following the departures of star defender Danielle Hunter and his sidekicks Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum. New signings Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel are the new threats to opposing quarterbacks.

Vikings Is Sweet
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy makes a pass against Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner during the first half of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

Minnesota hasn’t drafted an edge defender in the first round in almost two decades. Turner tallied ten sacks last season, 53 total tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss. In his three-year stint at Alabama, he sacked quarterbacks 22.5 times.

The exciting aspect of Turner is his physical profile, with an outrageous sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash.

While his explosiveness will help him become an excellent pass-rusher, he must work on some mechanics and fundamentals, but he is already a solid run-stopper.

All three of those guys would upgrade the defense from a potential standpoint. Even if they can’t shine in their debut seasons, the Vikes need an infusion of talent on that side of the ball to ensure a good defense for years to come.

While the quarterback remains at the top of the wishlist, adding at least one of those players would be a solid alternative.

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