5 Positions the Vikings Could Target in Round 1 of the 2023 Draft
The 2023 NFL Draft is fast approaching with the scouting combine now sitting just over a week away, and mock drafts galore have been all over Vikings news feeds since the offseason began. But, you may ask, what are the positions that the Vikings are most likely to need when draft time rolls around? Here are 5 positions the Vikings could target in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
I opted not to distinguish between cornerback and safety because part of me believes that the Vikings could have an interest in Alabama safety Brian Branch should he be available at No. 23. Regardless, Minnesota needs to find some help in their secondary this offseason.
Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley both will enter free agency in a few weeks, and while it is certainly possible that Minnesota could bring them back, it seems less likely that either of them will be “lockdown” starters for the Vikings in 2023.
Especially in a blitz-heavy Brian Flores defense, Minnesota will need cornerbacks that can consistently win one-on-one battles against wide receivers. This is why it could be important to the Vikings to find a cheap, young option for this role. A few names to keep an eye on from a Vikings standpoint are:
- Deonte Banks (Maryland)
- Brian Branch (Alabama)
- Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
- Kelee Ringo (Georgia)
- Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
EDGE is the one position on the Vikings defense that doesn’t look like a major need right now, but that could change in the coming days and weeks. Za’Darius Smith could be a cap casualty this offseason, and teams can never have enough quality players at this position.
On top of that, this class of EDGE prospects looks like a very good one, which could further reinforce the Vikings desire to snag one of the top players at the position. Here are a few names that may be worth paying attention to as the time gets closer:
- Andre Carter (Army)
- Isaiah Foskey (Notre Dame)
- Lukas Van Ness (Iowa)
Flores may find a way to reinvigorate Eric Kendricks after a down-year in 2022, but even still, Minnesota needs to be thinking about the future of the position. Jordan Hicks is another candidate to be a cap casualty, opening up a spot in the Vikings starting lineup.
Brian Asamoah may be able to fill this role, but at the very least, the Vikings need another do-it-all type of player at the position. In his opening press conference, Flores emphasized his desire for players to be able to play multiple roles on defense. Here are some names to watch for this type of role:
- Drew Sanders (Arkansas)
- Noah Sewell (Oregon)
- Trenton Simpson (Clemson)
- Henry To’oto’o (Alabama)
We can’t have a Vikings offseason without the quarterback position being a major topic of discussion, right? Currently, the Vikings have Kirk Cousins under contract through 2023, and then following the season, he will hit free agency again if he is not extended once again.
The Vikings currently do not employ another quarterback, but they could very well bring back Nick Mullens to be their backup once again. Regardless, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made it clear that having quality backups at the position are a priority over his first 12 months as GM. Gone are the days of Minnesota relying on Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond.
Even still, this remains the least likely of the five positions for the Vikings in round 1, especially if the four top names go off the board early. If the Vikings were to take a QB, though, here are names to keep an eye on. However, keep in mind, I think the first round may be too early for the first two names on the list, and I think the latter two names will be off the board prior to the Vikings picking at No. 23.
- Jake Haener (Fresno State)
- Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
- Will Levis (Kentucky)
- Anthony Richardson (Florida)
Sure, the Vikings may need defense more than many other positions, but it is certainly possible that defenders fly off the board early on in this draft. In The Athletic’s most recent mock draft, there were 18 defenders chosen in the first round.
If the board goes down this way, don’t rule out the possibility that the Vikings could take a wide receiver in the first round. Justin Jefferson needs a consistent WR2 next to him, and right now, the Vikings options are either K.J. Osborn or an aging Adam Thielen.
If the Vikings did opt to take a receiver in the first round, here are a few of the names that I would consider targets:
- Jordan Addison (USC)
- Zay Flowers (Boston College)
- Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee)
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.