Vikings Mock Draft: Filling Brian Flores’ Defense with Versatile Players

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

In 2023, the Minnesota Vikings made significant progress on defense, but it was evident that defensive coordinator Brian Flores had to work with limited resources.

Flores devised a strategy that applied pressure despite being limited, which proved successful until the team’s lack of depth was exposed towards the end of the season. The Vikings plan to extend contracts to Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, and/or Justin Jefferson this offseason. However, doing so will limit their ability to sign free agents to bolster their depth. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must address this issue with a successful draft that will replenish the defense’s depth.

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft Picks

NFL: Combine
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings will have nine draft picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, with five in a 58-pick range on early day 3.

Round 1, Pick 11
Round 2, Pick 42
Round 4, Pick 108
Round 4, Pick 130
Round 5, Pick 148
Round 5, Pick 160
Round 5, Pick 166
Round 6, Pick 179
Round 7, Pick 230

Minnesota Vikings’ Key Free Agents

Mock Draft
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As time passes, it seems increasingly unlikely that Kirk Cousins will re-sign with the Vikings, despite the team’s public declaration that he is their top priority. Teams like the Falcons and Steelers need a veteran upgrade this summer, and if they don’t make a move for Cousins, it would be malpractice for their franchises.

K.J. Osborn will likely leave the Vikings and sign with another team as a slot receiver now that Jordan Addison has taken over that position. Earlier this week, I wrote about how Osborn’s efficiency suffered when he was moved out of the slot. Even if the Vikings re-sign Dalton Risner, who is set to become a free agent, they should still add depth to their offensive line in 2024. Risner joined the team midway through last season and helped stabilize the line’s left side.

In 2023, the Vikings’ defense showed improvement under Brian Flores. However, it was clear that they relied more on scheming pressure than on players winning their individual battles. In the upcoming offseason, the Vikings should focus on providing Flores with the necessary personnel to coach the defense without any restrictions.

Priority should be given to re-signing or replacing Danielle Hunter and Jordan Hicks, as the depth at their positions is expected to hit free agency. This further highlights the importance of adding young, talented players in those spots. Key depth pieces like D.J. Wonnum, Troy Dye, and Jonathon Bullard are scheduled to reach free agency. Retooling the defensive line, adding a linebacker partner for Ivan Pace Jr, and acquiring another cornerback in 2024 is imperative.

The Mock Draft

Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac (20) celebrates a sack from Dani Dennis-Sutton (33) in the first half of an NCAA football game against Michigan at Beaver Stadium Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in State College, Pa.

Round 1, Pick 11: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

McCarthy’s draft stock has been rising steadily and is expected to continue to do so throughout the process. His game is solid, and it’s hard to find any weaknesses in it. He will perform well in athletic drills and interviews and likely won’t be available by the time Pick 11 comes around. Whether Cousins returns or not, McCarthy is the most coachable quarterback prospect in the draft and would do well underneath Cousins and/or head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Round 2, Pick 42: Adisa Isaac, EDGE, Penn State

Adisa Isaac is a promising prospect who suffered an Achilles tear in 2021. However, he has since made a successful comeback and has displayed an all-round game with no apparent weaknesses, though he doesn’t possess any elite skills to stand out. Isaac can be a great foundational piece for the Vikings, providing versatility and the ability to play all three downs from the first day.

Round 4, Pick 108: Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri

Robinson had an exceptional performance at the Senior Bowl and is now entering the NFL Scouting Combine with a lot of momentum. At 6’5″ and weighing 285 pounds, Robinson possesses the versatility to be an all-around player for the Vikings from the get-go. His power profile will enable him to play across the line, whether on the edge or as a 5-tech tackle.

Round 4, Pick 130: Junior Colson, LB, Michigan

Junior Colson is a tough, standout player known for his impressive grit. He has built a reputation of being quite aggressive in his tackling, often ripping through blocks and stopping carriers in their tracks. Although there are some concerns about his coverage skills, he has shown significant improvement in 2023. Colson’s strength lies in his ability to attack downhill toward the ball, and he can also excel, in spurts, on the edge at the next level. His style of play would be an excellent fit for defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ blitz-heavy defense.

Round 5, Pick 148: Jarrian Jones, CB, Florida State

Jones is a highly versatile defender for the team’s defense. He is a physical and sticky defensive back with a confident attitude and the ability to play inside and outside. He had an exceptional season as a corner in 2023. However, concerns about his long speed and athleticism while backpedaling may cause him to drop out of the top 100 picks. Despite his average athleticism, Jones is a player with a high football IQ who consistently positions himself for success.

Round 5, Pick 160: Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, WR, Georgia

Rosemy-Jacksaint, born with six fingers on each hand, is a big receiver entering the NFL with unproven potential factored into his draft price. He can consistently work the center field while providing a vertical threat along the boundary. Although he didn’t meet expectations at Georgia, it is common for most Georgia receivers to have better careers at the next level. If K.J. Osborn moves on this offseason, Rosemy-Jacksaint would be a great fit to fill the role that was asked of Osborn.

Round 5, Pick 166: Evan Anderson, NT, Florida Atlantic

Anderson is an incredibly large human, measuring 6’3″ and weighing 356 pounds. He is especially strong at the point of attack and can use his power when moving downhill. Despite his size, he has quick feet and can push the pocket, which makes him quite effective. He is best suited as a 2-down role player, capable of creating log jams in the center of the line of scrimmage. When given a one-on-one situation, he is able to apply pressure to the pocket.

Round 6, Pick 179: Gabe Hall, DT, Baylor

In a previous article, I emphasized the significance of the Senior Bowl for the Vikings. They have found another Senior Bowl all-star in Gabe Hall. Hall stood out from day one, showing his ability to rush the passer while aligning from the edge or 5-tech. Measuring at 6’5″ and weighing 290 pounds, Hall brings good length to his position. He is a versatile player, an essential trait for the Vikings’ defense.

Round 7, Pick 230: Carson Steele, RB, UCLA

Steele is a powerful, aggressive rusher who can impact rushing games between the hashes. He stands at 6’0″ and weighs 230 pounds. Steele also possesses soft hands, which make him a reliable option. He will be an excellent depth option for any team at the next level, with the added ability to come in on 3rd down. Steele offers a versatile profile that keeps the defense guessing on his next move, whether coming in to rush up the middle, catch a pass in the flat, or pass block.