Potential Vikings Draft Sleepers with the 2024 NFL Draft Just Two Weeks Away

Nov 4, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Kendrick Law (19) is tackled by LSU Tigers defensive tackle Maason Smith (0) and safety Sage Ryan (15) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 42-28. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL Draft begins two weeks from tonight.

All 32 teams are wrapping up their draft evaluations and trying to identify prospects to select in order to improve their rosters both for the 2024 season and further into the future. Here is a look at a few potential draft sleepers who could be on the Vikings’ radar.

RB Braelon Allen, Wisconsin

Draft Sleepers
Dec 27, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second half of the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings were one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL this past season. As a result, Minnesota made a major shakeup in their backfield by releasing Alexander Mattison and bringing in Aaron Jones to be the new partner alongside Ty Chandler.

Even still, Minnesota would be wise to continue building out their backfield ahead of the 2024 season. Aaron Jones is only on a one-year deal, and he will turn 30 years old in December. Braelon Allen is the latest in a long line of Wisconsin running backs now headed for the NFL.

Allen is a bruising runner at 6’1″ and 235 pounds and piled up nearly 3500 yards along with 35 rushing touchdowns at a clip of nearly six yards per carry over three seasons. The best part is he just turned 20 years old in January and could have a long NFL career ahead of him.

WR Jalen Coker, Holy Cross

Holy Cross wide receiver Jalen Coker celebrates after a first down in the fourth quarter during Saturday’s game at Fitton Field.

The Vikings have two of the premier players at the wide receiver position in Jordan Addison and Justin Jefferson, though the depth behind those players is shaky at best. K.J. Osborn is now a member of the New England Patriots, and currently, Minnesota’s WR3 would be Brandon Powell.

Jalen Coker could be a prospect that goes as early as the fifth round, or he could fall out of the draft entirely based on how the NFL weighs his strengths and weaknesses. Of course, playing at Holy Cross, he was not facing NFL competition on a regular basis, but there are plenty of positives to his game. He is a big-bodied receiver who should primarily serve as a boundary player at 6’1″ and 208 pounds, but he did step into the slot on occasion. Coker brings explosive athletic ability (42.5″ vertical) and strong receiving hands to the table, but speed could be a question.

IOL Zak Zinter, Michigan

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65) against the TCU Horned Frogs during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If he did not suffer a broken leg back in November, Zak Zinter may have received a lot more draft hype this spring. However, he has not been able to go through much of the on-field draft process and could be set to miss some time during his rookie season.

Regardless, Zinter is a powerful run blocker at guard and has the potential to be a starter at some point during his NFL career. The Vikings still currently need to figure out their starting left guard position, so the Michigan product could be a potential fit in the o-line.

DT Maason Smith, LSU

Sep 4, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Louisiana State Tigers defensive tackle Maason Smith (0) celebrates a play during the first half against the Florida State Seminoles at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have a pretty massive need in the defensive trenches heading into the 2024 season. Jonathan Bullard and Harrison Phillips are two solid starters, but there isn’t much in terms of production behind them, and they will either need to nail a mid-round pick (assuming they trade up for a QB rather than keeping Nos. 11 and 23) or have a depth piece step up (Jaquelin Roy).

Maason Smith can be a pick to do that while also having the upside of a potential starter one day. Smith stands at 6’6″ and weighs 315 pounds. His brute force in the middle of LSU’s defensive line wreaked havoc on opposing offenses all season.

CB Cam Hart, Notre Dame

Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame defensive back Cam Hart (DB15) works out during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings are going to try and play more man coverage this season to better fit the prototypical mold of a Brian Flores defense, they are going to need another larger cornerback who can hold up in that role.

Cam Hart out of Notre Dame is 6’3″ and weighs over 200 pounds, so he fits that mold very well. In man coverage this season, he played 163 coverage snaps and was targeted 19 times, allowing just 11 receptions for 88 yards. He is an imposing presence for smaller receivers and certainly can help fill that man coverage role in Minnesota.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus and Sports Reference CFB.

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.