Ranking the Vikings Draft Needs in 2022
As seems to be the annual tradition, the Minnesota Vikings go into the 2022 NFL Draft process needing to improve multiple positions across their roster. With so much discussion around the draft, I decided to take the liberty of ranking each Vikings draft needs. These needs will be based off a couple things:
- the Vikings desperation for depth/star talent at the position
- the depth of the actual draft class at the position
- the possibility of the need being filled in free agency/trades
It feels ironic that as soon as Mike Zimmer is gone, after so many years of eye rolling at his desire for drafting cornerbacks, Vikings fandom has seemingly united in their desire for a first round CB. To this point, many signs are still pointing to Cincinnati Bearcat, Ahmad Gardner, going to the purple this April.
Yes, the cornerback position looks like it is loaded in this 2022 class. There are four or five players that look like plug-and-play guys into the CB1 or CB2 spots for NFL teams. That said, the need for a lockdown corner is just as prevalent across the NFL as it is with the Vikings. The Vikings could certainly get one of the top three at No. 12, but if they don’t select one in the first round, Minnesota could miss out on the talent by the time they pick again.
Then in free agency, players with CB1 talent will come with a major price tag that the Vikings likely won’t be able to play. They need to make CB a major focus in this draft class.
EDGE is another position that seems to be quite deep in the 2022 class, but not with as many instant stars as corner. Instead, to me there looks to be 2-3 “sure things” at this position (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, George Karlaftis), and a number of nice depth pieces after that.
The EDGE position is one where the Vikings need to improve, especially with some uncertainty surrounding Danielle Hunter’s status. However, they have almost no chance of landing either of Thibodeaux or Hutchinson. If they don’t go with an EDGE in the first round, Minnesota still has a chance to land some solid talent at the position in rounds 2-3. Additionally, they could pick up some similarly talented players throughout free agency.
3. Interior Offensive Line
It seems the Vikings have at least one solid guard with the year two progression that Ezra Cleveland made during 2021. There also could still be some hope for Wyatt Davis with another year of development.
However, at the very least the center position needs fixing. Garrett Bradbury has been disappointing since the Vikings made him a first round selection in 2019, especially in pass protection.
Tyler Linderbaum looks like one of the most talented center prospects in years, but No. 12 is still a very high pick for an interior offensive lineman. I think it’s worth it if you want to get a potentially generational talent at the position, but I also understand the needs on the other side of the ball.
If Minnesota opts not to go Linderbaum, there are plenty of options in Day Two that are worth waiting for. One that comes to mind is Zion Johnson out of Boston College who seems like he is mocking in the mid-second round a lot recently.
Minnesota already seemed thin at the outside linebacker spot with Nick Vigil and Anthony Barr potentially leaving the Vikings this offseason. Then, you throw in the potential that this team may move to a 3-4 defense in 2022, and their need for strong linebacker play becomes even greater.
Micah Parsons stole the show once he reached the NFL, and he showed just how valuable a versatile linebacker can be. This draft class looks to be very strong at linebacker, but for different reasons. 2022 is headlined by Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd at LB, and this is mainly for their insane athleticism and pass coverage chops.
The Vikings have seen Eric Kendrick’s become one of the most terrific pass-defending LBs in the NFL, so this need isn’t as pressing as it would otherwise be, but I certainly wouldn’t be upset if Minnesota decided they should take a shot at Nakobe Dean if Ahmad Gardner and Derek Stingley came off the board earlier than expected.
Obviously when you mention the safety position and the 2022 NFL Draft class together, the first player that comes to mind is Kyle Hamilton. I believe he is overall the most talented player in this class because of his size, athleticism and versatility. Again though, the Vikings have virtually no shot at drafting him as everyone believes he will go somewhere within the first five picks.
Minnesota’s need at safety is covered up by the fact that Harrison Smith has continued playing elite football into his 30s. They also found a cheap option next to him in 2021 by picking up Xavier Woods.
Camryn Bynum emerged as a surprising talent at the position in Smith’s place due to a Covid absence, but it’s uncertain how consistently he can play at the position for an entire season. The 2022 NFL Draft again brings some solid talent at this position into the draft, but there is a good chance that Hamilton is the only one selected in the first round. Because of that, Minnesota should look at taking a prospect at some point in this draft, but it is not nearly as pressing as the others.