2024 Vikings Mock Draft: Minnesota Bolsters the Defense Early, Grabs QB in Later Rounds

Nov 6, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Jer'Zhan Newton (94) reacts to a missed stop in the third quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings lost to the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend and fell to 7-7.

As a result, they’ve moved up a bit in the NFL Draft order, and currently hold the No. 20 overall pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Today, we’re going through another Vikings mock draft from Rounds 1-6 to take a peek at a few prospects that could be on Minnesota’s radar this spring. The mock draft was done by utilizing the simulator on NFL Mock Draft Database.

R1, P20: Illinois DT Jer’Zhan Newton

Vikings Mock Draft
Oct 21, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton (4) tackles Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Flores has done a heroic job of bringing the Vikings defense out of the depths in the NFL, but assuming he is back as the defensive coordinator next season, it’s time for Minnesota to give him some monsters to work with.

Jer’Zhan Newton has been a ferocious defender in the middle of the Illinois defense for four years now, and he 22.5 tackles for loss along with 13.0 sacks over the past two seasons. He isn’t necessarily the biggest defensive tackle you’ll ever see (6’2″, 295 pounds), but his athletic ability and strength can open up the pass-rush from the interior of the defensive line.

R2, P51: TCU CB Josh Newton

TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Josh Newton (2) celebrates a thread down stop against Texas Longhorns running back CJ Baxter (4) late in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, November. 11, 2023, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

TCU has produced a couple NFL defensive backs in recent years (Tre’von Moehrig, Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson), and Josh Newton may be the most talented of them all. He has acceptable NFL size at an even 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, and his ability to track the ball in the air gives him big-play potential that the Vikings need in their secondary.

Over his two seasons at TCU since transferring from Louisiana-Monroe, Newton has put together 21 passes defended and 4 interceptions. Minnesota has gotten some decent production out of their cornerback room this season, but it still feels like they might be a piece away from having a true lockdown secondary. Perhaps Newton can be that piece.

R4, P120: Tulane QB Michael Pratt

Nov 24, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Tulane Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt (7) runs for a gain against UTSA Roadrunners defensive back Ken Robinson (21) during the second half at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings should be in the market for a QB in this draft, but if the top prospects fly off the board early in the first round, there may not be a ton of immediate starting options left by the time Minnesota picks.

We also have to consider the idea that Kirk Cousins could very well be back in a purple jersey for one more go round in 2024. If that happens, the onus to draft an early QB goes down even further. As a result, it’s Michael Pratt out of Tulane in this mock.

Pratt has been starting for the Green Wave since his freshman season, and his ability to move and throw on the run makes him an intriguing prospect. In the open field, he is a bear to bring down at 6’3″ and 220 pounds. He’s very poised in the pocket and delivers an accurate throw regularly.

The quality of competition that he played in the AAC will be a question, but he is worth a Day 3 flyer and frankly, could be a top-100 pick with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.

R4, P127: USC RB Marshawn Lloyd

Nov 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans running back MarShawn Lloyd (0) runs during the second quarter against the UCLA Bruins at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s NFL, it’s never a bad thing to have some extra depth at the running back position. Minnesota has seen some improved production from both Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler in recent weeks, but the early portion of the season looked bleak for the Vikings rushers.

Marshawn Lloyd is just one of a few potential NFL playmakers at the position in this class, and his ability to make explosive plays with his athleticism makes him a candidate for the Vikings early in the third day.

R5, P159: Florida WR Ricky Pearsall

Nov 11, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (1) catches a pass against LSU Tigers safety Andre’ Sam (14) during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Pearsall is an explosive athlete at the wide receiver position and does a great job stretching the field as a deep threat. The Florida WR has averaged 15.4 yards per reception during his career with the Gators, and he offers additional ability as a blocker in the running game.

R6, P160: Missouri LB Ty’Ron Hopper

Aug 31, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper (8) on the line of scrimmage against the South Dakota Coyotes during the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Can lightning strike twice for the Vikings at the linebacker position? They nailed the signing of Ivan Pace following the draft, and Ty’Ron Hopper offers a similar skillset. Despite being undersized, Hopper is a ridiculous athlete, a vicious tackler, and offers tremendous upside as a blitzer. Sound familiar?

R6, P177: Arkansas IOL Beaux Limmer

Oct 7, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks offensive linemen Joshua Braun (78) and Beaux Limmer (55) block during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings love their versatile interior offensive linemen, and Beaux Limmer fits right into that category. After beginning his collegiate career at the right guard spot, he has spent the 2023 season playing center for the Razorbacks. Minnesota has their starters under contract for the most part, but they could still look to add some developmental depth on the o-line.

R6, P186: Florida CB Jason Marshall

Florida Gators cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. (3) celebrates after a stop during the first half against the Florida State Seminoles at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 25, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Jason Marshall needs a lot of work at refining his technique in coverage, but he is a big, physical corner that thrives in press-man coverage. This is a skillset that the Vikings don’t have a ton of right now, so he could be an intriguing prospect in the later rounds.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.