5 Kwesi Draft Picks That Need to Step Up for the Vikings in 2023

Young Vikings Receiver
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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been hard at work over the past year-plus building the Minnesota Vikings towards his vision of competing for a Super Bowl. That process has included 16 draft selections in 2022 and 2023, and now, we need to start seeing some of them begin making major contributions to help the Vikings take the next step on their quest towards a Super Bowl. Here are 5 Kwesi draft picks that need to step up for the Vikings in 2023.

WR Jordan Addison

Kwesi Draft Picks
Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass against the Utah Utes in the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota released Adam Thielen this offseason, opening the door for a new receiver to take over the WR2 role for the Vikings. Prior to the draft, K.J. Osborn would have been the obvious choice here, but now that the Vikings made the decision to use their first-round pick on Jordan Addison, they need him to step up and prove that he was worth the selection.

Not only would this mean Adofo-Mensah made the right choice by picking Addison with the 23rd overall pick, but he makes it much less important for Minnesota to fork out big money to keep Osborn around long term when he inevitably looks for a big payday next offseason.

S Lewis Cine

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) warms up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last season ended abruptly for Kwesi’s first ever draft pick as Lewis Cine suffered a compound fracture in his leg during Week 4. However, even prior to that injury, the safety wasn’t exactly lighting it up with his play.

This season needs to go differently for Cine, especially considering Cam Bynum had some major struggles last year playing alongside Harrison Smith. To this point, it seems that Cine is fully back from his injury, which is a positive sign for 2023.

CB Andrew Booth Jr.

2022 Vikings Draft Class
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) straight arms Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) after making a catch during second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Similarly to Cine, Andrew Booth Jr. struggled with injuries in his rookie season, but even when he was healthy, there wasn’t a ton of headway made towards being a contributor on the defense. He played just 105 defensive snaps over the course of six games that he appeared in.

For a player that Minnesota actually traded up to pick (using draft capital picked up from that trade with the Green Bay Packers, no less) the Vikings need to get more out of their 2022 second-round pick this season. This is emphasized even more by the fact that the secondary in Minnesota is extremely thin on veteran experience.

RB Ty Chandler

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) is tackled by Chicago Bears players during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

This will become a major topic if the Vikings do move on from Dalvin Cook, but regardless, we should be hoping to see more of Ty Chandler this season. The running back has dynamic athleticism, and we simply didn’t see enough of him on the field last year, especially considering in his sole season at North Carolina in 2021, he averaged 6.0 yards per carry.

Even if Cook sticks around, the Vikings should try to take more of the load off the veteran’s shoulders moving forward, and Chandler can be an outstanding RB3 option.

CB Mekhi Blackmon

Vikings Add CB Mekhi Blackmon with the 102nd Overall Pick
Sep 10, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; USC Trojans defensive back Mekhi Blackmon (6) runs with the football during the first quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings opted not to use their first-round pick on a cornerback such as Deonte Banks or Joey Porter Jr., and instead, they went wide receiver before taking Mekhi Blackmon with the final pick of the third round.

The best way for us to not look back at this draft with ‘what if’ thoughts is with a strong rookie campaign from Blackmon. If he can do that, it would make the Vikings situation in the secondary much more bearable.

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.