The Vikings Writers’ Mock Draft: Minnesota Trades Down, Makes a Surprise Pick

NFL: NFL Draft
Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For some, mock draft season is tiresome. Speculation runs rampant as everyone from expert to halfwit offers their opinion, no matter how sensible or ludicrous. Ideally, we’ll avoid straying too close to the halfwit option.

Previously, we put together a Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD writers mock. The Vikings opted for pass-rushing DT Calijah Kancey in that version. In this version, Kancey doesn’t even make it into the top 32 selections, a surprising reality given the young DT’s talent. Alas, an effort was made to think outside the box.

A grand total of 8 folks contributed to this mock draft:

Keep on scrolling to find on who goes where in this fictional version of the NFL Draft. The real one will begin on Thursday, April 27.

VT & P/PTSD Writers Mock Draft 2.0

1) Carolina Panthers (Originally Bears) 
Pick by Janik Eckardt 

  • The Pick: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State 
  • The Explanation: The Panthers traded up for a new franchise quarterback and C.J. Stroud is the pick. He fits Frank Reich’s offense, is a sure pick, and still doesn’t lack a high ceiling. 

2) Houston Texans 
Pick by Cole Smith

  • The Pick: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
  • The Explanation: With Stroud off the board, the Texans make the logical choice and select Young, securing their quarterback of the future.

3) Arizona Cardinals 
Pick by Henrique Gucciardi 

  • The Pick: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama 
  • The Explanation: The Cardinals can either trade back with someone wanting to jump the Colts or stay put and draft their highest-rated player. As the phone didn’t ring here they took Will Anderson, who has All-Pro potential.

4) Indianapolis Colts 
Pick by Dustin Baker 

  • The Pick: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  • The Explanation: No 1st-Round quarterback has been as inaccurate in college as Richardson than Jake Locker, Kyle Boller, or Ryan Leaf – but who cares, huh? The Colts are done with terrible veteran QB solutions and try the rookie experiment. 
Vikings Draft Thermometer: QB Anthony Richardson
Sep 3, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) points after he scores a touchdown against the Utah Utes during the first quarter at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5) Seattle Seahawks (Originally Broncos)
Pick by Josh Frey 

  • The Pick: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
  • The Explanation: The Seahawks need more of a pass-rushing presence, and as long as Tyree Wilson avoids future injury concerns, he should be on his way to a productive NFL career.

6) Detroit Lions (Originally Rams) 
Pick by Nate Powalie 

  • The Pick: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
  • The Explanation: After recently trading away Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions secondary is looking rather thin right now. They immediately address that need by selecting a stud in Devon Witherspoon.

7) Las Vegas Raiders 
Pick by K. Joudry

  • The Pick: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia 
  • The Explanation: Fixing all that ails the Raiders goes beyond just a single pick. Nevertheless, Carter could reasonably be a major boost to their defense. He’s quite possibly the best player in the draft but may slide due to some off-field concerns. 

8) Atlanta Falcons 
Pick by Steven DeLuca 

  • The Pick: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
  • The Explanation: With the moves the Falcons have made this offseason, the Arthurs (Smith & Blank) look resolute on contending for the NFC South in 2023. While the team could be tempted to target one of the top WRs in this year’s draft, how many more shots will they have to grab a QB with the upside of Levis?

9) Chicago Bears (Originally Panthers) 
Pick by Janik Eckardt

  • The Pick: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
  • The Explanation: The Bears must help Justin Fields and improve his surroundings. GM Ryan Poles selects the top offensive lineman and no matter if he will start at guard or tackle, he will be a huge upgrade. 

10) Philadelphia Eagles 
Pick by Cole Smith

  • The Pick: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
  • The Explanation: The Eagles could go in a variety of directions here. But Robinson is the best player available here in a running back-friendly offense. The high-flying offense gets even better.
Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs during the second half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

11) Tennessee Titans
Pick by Henrique Gucciardi

  • The Pick: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State 
  • The Explanation: This will most likely be an offense-heavy draft for the Titans. They start by adding a dynamic receiver for a much needed WR boost in Tennessee.

12) Houston Texans (Originally Cleveland) 
Pick by Dustin Baker 

  • The Pick: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
  • The Explanation: Houston employs Jerry Hughes and Jonathan Greenard at EDGE, and those gents had a combined 10.5 sacks in 2022. After nabbing Bryce Young an hour earlier, the Texans now have a defensive centerpiece, too. 

13) New York Jets 
Pick by Josh Frey

  • The Pick: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
  • The Explanation: The Jets could target the offensive line with this pick as well, but it’s hard to look past the potential dynamic duo that Sauce Gardner and Christian Gonzalez could create at corner. 

14) New England Patriots 
Pick by Nate Powalie

  • The Pick: Paris Johnson, Jr., OT, Ohio State
  • The Explanation: With a developing quarterback controversy between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe (some of you might say who?), the Patriots need help on the line. Paris Johnson Jr is a plug-and-play guy from day 1. He’ll be an instant help for Bill Belichick.

15) Green Bay Packers 
Pick by K. Joudry

  • The Pick: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
  • The Explanation: A touch early for the talented TE? Perhaps, but Green Bay likes to conduct business in their own manner. He’ll start in Day 1 for Matt LeFleur, giving Jordan Love a huge target to lean on to move the chains. 
Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Michael Mayer (87) celebrates his touchdown scored against the Southern California Trojans with tight end Mitchell Evans (88) during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

16) Washington Commanders
Pick by Steven DeLuca

  • The Pick: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
  • The Explanation: Head Coach Ron Rivera insists Sam Howell is the Commanders’ starter in 2023. With a stacked lineup on both sides of the ball, it’s tough to believe (perhaps not) that Washington will go into yet another season with questions at the QB position. If Rivera truly believes in Howell, the team’s main gap may be the secondary, and Porter’s speed and physicality can make an immediate impact.

17) Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick by Janik Eckardt

  • The Pick: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
  • The Explanation: The Steelers need to upgrade the offensive line. That line was a strength of the team in the last decade but became one of the weaknesses. Jones is the best tackle on the board and will be an immediate upgrade. 

18) Detroit Lions
Pick by Cole Smith

  • The Pick: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
  • The Explanation: The Lions need secondary help, but adding another bookend to Aiden Hutchinson could mask what figures to again be a suspect defensive backfield.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Pick by Henrique Gucciardi

  • The Pick: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
  • The Explanation: Now that Brady is gone the Bucs will go through a rebuild to restart the franchise. With that in mind they select a very good defensive back who can play safety, slot cornerback, and, if necessary, outside CB without suffering too much.

20) Seattle Seahawks 
Pick by Dustin Baker 

  • The Pick: O’Cyrus Torrence, iOL, Florida
  • The Explanation: The dude is 6-foot-5 and 347 pounds, and Seattle needs interior offensive line help. The Seahawks land the top iOL on the draftboard after fortifying the defensive trenches with Tyree Wilson earlier in the evening. 

21) Los Angeles Chargers 
Pick by Josh Frey

  • The Pick: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
  • The Explanation: The Chargers need some more WR help, especially with some uncertainty regarding Keenan Allen and Mike Williams following the 2023 season. LA gets a big-bodied receiver for Justin Herbert to throw to.
Vikings Draft Thermometer: WR Quentin Johnston
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) runs after a catch in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

22) Baltimore Ravens 
Pick by Nate Powalie

  • The Pick: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
  • The Explanation: In recent memory, Baltimore’s secondary has been hampered due to the injury bug. They can address that need here right away with a local guy in Deonte Banks from the University of Maryland. CBS Sports even compared him to Antonio Cromartie. His speed and physicality will immediately make him a starter from day one.

23) Minnesota Vikings Philadelphia Eagles (Philly jumps to pick #23 in exchange for pick #30 and #94) 
Pick by K. Joudry Pick by Nate Powalie

  • The Pick: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
  • The Explanation: I know the Eagles have two top-flight receivers in A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, but Zay Flowers provides a lot of intrigue here at 23. Flowers is a guy who can instantly take the top off of a defense.

24) Jacksonville Jaguars 
Pick by Steven DeLuca 

  • The Pick: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
  • The Explanation: Emmanuel Forbes moves up to become the fifth CB taken in the first round. Forbes turned heads at the combine, and his fast hands, speed, and pre-snap recognition allows Jacksonville to plug him in in Week 1.

25) New York Giants 
Pick by Janik Eckardt 

  • The Pick: Jordan Addison, WR, USC 
  • The Explanation: After the huge investment in Daniel Jones, the Giants must improve the surroundings of the QB. The wide receiver group might be the worst in the league and the well-refined Addison can instantly be his top weapon. 

26) Dallas Cowboys 
Pick by Cole Smith

  • The Pick: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
  • The Explanation: Dalton Schultz left for the Texans this off-season. The defense is set, so adding more talent at skill positions is paramount if this team wants to win 13 regular season games before their inevitable postseason chokejob.

27) Buffalo Bills 
Pick by Henrique Gucciardi 

  • The Pick: Anton Harrison, OL, Oklahoma 
  • The Explanation: The Bills need help up front, either in pass protection or the running game. Harrison played left tackle for the Sooners but can transition to the right side and boost this offense even more.

28) Cincinnati Bengals 
Pick by Dustin Baker 

  • The Pick: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
  • The Explanation: The Bengals missed out on TEs Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid so they wait until Day 2 for those needs. GM Duke Tobin adds Ringo to a CB room consisting of Chidobe Awuzie, Cam Taylor-Britt, Mike Hilton, and Sidney Jones IV.

29) New Orleans Saints (It’s Complicated; 49ers, Dolphins, Broncos) 
Pick by Josh Frey

  • The Pick: Cedrick Tillman, WR, Tennessee
  • The Explanation: The Saints may be getting Michael Thomas back, but how much can they trust his health? New Orleans snags a receiver at the end of the first round. 

30) Philadelphia Eagles Minnesota Vikings (see above for trade details)
Pick by Nate Powalie Pick by K. Joudry

  • The Pick: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
  • The Explanation: After trading down, Minnesota opts for a powerful and massive DT. The appeal of adding a corner is strong, but many of the top names – Porter, Banks, Forbes, Ringo – have all been scooped up. Smith fills a sneaky need and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has another Top 100 pick to work with after sliding down the board.
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

31) Kansas City Chiefs 
Pick by K. Joudry 

  • The Pick: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
  • The Explanation: Adding cheap weapons for Patrick Mahomes is a top priority. The QB is sensational but he’s making a sensational amount of money. Give him options that don’t cost a ton.