A Trio of Round 2 Defenders The Vikings May Trade Back For

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Iowa at Kentucky
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

One of the reigning theories in Vikings Land is that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah – a stock trader by trade – will be looking to slide down the draft board. Entering the event with a mere 5 selections isn’t ideal, so forfeiting the 23rd pick in exchange for more options in RD2 and/or RD3 has merit.

Indeed, the Vikings may trade back if they’re in love with some of the players projected to be available on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Of course, seeing the initial 22 picks will help to demystify who could reasonably be available on Friday, April 28th.

Brian Flores’ defense remains a work in progress. For the most part, we’ve seen continuity and subtractions rather than a mountain of new additions. The team, quite evidently, is looking for a boost from their sophomores. However, they’ll also be looking to get a boost from the incoming rookie group.

In the draft’s 2nd round, there are a variety of excellent players. Consider 3 who may end up starting their NFL career in a purple uniform.

The Vikings May Trade Back: 3 Defensive Prospects

Prospect #1 – Mazi Smith, Nose Tackle
6’3″, 323 pounds. 21 years old.

Coaches can’t teach size. The monstrous nose tackle would instantly become one of Minnesota’s most powerful defensive lineman. Currently, the best bet is that Harrison Phillips and Khyiris Tonga will handle the lion’s share of the snaps along the inside. Tossing Smith into the mix would create a fascinating trio.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Mazi Smith (58) celebrates a play against the TCU Horned Frogs in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

According to PFF, Smith played most of his snaps in the B gap, but he did play 185 snaps in the A gap last year. In other words, the team could rely on Smith to play over the center or guard, depending on need for that particular play.

He’s the 33rd player in the PFF board but doesn’t get into the Top 100 players for The Draft Network. Smith was sent to Minnesota in the recent Vikings writers’ mock.

Prospect #2 – Jack Campbell, Middle Linebacker
6’5″, 249 pounds. 22 years old.

An elite athlete, Campbell could realistically be a starter in Week 1 for Minnesota. In the NFL of yesteryear, he’d likely have been an opening-round selection. His size and athleticism are unreal, offering him a potentially game-changing ability for the NFL.

Dec 31, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Jack Campbell (31) is congratulated by defensive lineman Logan Lee (85) after a sack during the first half against the Kentucky Wildcats in the 2022 Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

He possesses a remarkable 9.98 relative athletic score, meaning he’s an unbelivably gifted athlete. Per the RAS system, Campbell is the 6th most athletic LB out of 2648 who are considered. PFF insists he was “about as dominant of a linebacker as you’ll see in college” and that this reality largely stemmed from his capabilities in pass coverage.

PFF has him as their 45th player and The Draft Network puts him at 41st.

Prospect #3 – Kelee Ringo, Corner
6’2″, 207 pounds. 20 years old.

Long and strong corners will always be in demand (why do you think the team recently added Joejuan Williams?). Ringo has an ideal build for playing corner in the NFL, especially when we remember that he ran a blazing 4.36 forty.

Dec 3, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Malik Nabers (8) is hit after his reception by Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

PFF refers to him as “arguably the freakiest athlete in the 2023 NFL Draft.” In the draft world, that’s a compliment. Not too many corners have the size and speed combo that Ringo possesses. He’s coming from a major college program and can press. Flores may fall in love with Ringo in the pre-draft process.

PFF has him at 73rd in their rankings whereas The Draft Network has him up at 24th.

Editor’s Note: Shout out to PFF and The Draft Network for providing the rankings that helped me build the list.