The Vikings’ Aggressive Strategy for Right After the 2024 Draft

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a track record of being aggressive when adding UDFAs.

In fact, the Vikings’ GM is quite willing to put together pretty large deals, all things considered. The strategy has led to bringing in players like Luiji Vilain, Zach McCloud, Ivan Pace Jr., and Andre Carter II (among others). Any chance we see something similar for players who slip out of the 2024 NFL Draft?

The Vikings’ Aggressive Approach to Adding UDFA Talent

Where would the Vikings defense have been if there was no Ivan Pace?

Somehow, the hard-hitting linebacker slipped out of the draft. The rookie ended up snagging a starting position before too long, getting involved in all 17 games while starting 11. He picked up 102 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 9 QB hits, 2 TFLs, 1 FF, and 1 INT across his 706 snaps on defense and 249 snaps on special teams.

Again, all of this while in his rookie year and while being brought aboard as an undrafted free agent.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) and linebacker Nick Vigil (right) gather before the game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing Pace to Minnesota involved a 3-year agreement that promised to send over $2,715,000. Crucially, there was $236,000 in guaranteed money.

And while Pace is the top example from the aggressive UDFA strategy, the Vikings have kicked over some pretty decent financial commitments to others, as well.

The trio of pass rushers mentioned up top — Vilain, McCloud, and Carter — all secured pretty good paydays. Vilain snagged $227,000 in guarantees, McCloud snagged $250,000 in guarantees, and Carter snagged $340,000 in guarantees. Minnesota’s goal has been to invest in upside options at one of the game’s most important positions. Of the three, Carter — who has tremendous size — is the lone one who is still around. If he can become a rotational pass rusher who is disruptive on 3rd down, then the strategy will have been worth it.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Jake Curhan (74) blocks Minnesota Vikings linebacker Andre Carter II (55) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

And then one thinks of backup corner NaJee Thompson.

The man is a tremendous part of Matt Daniels’ special teams. The 23-year-old offers excellent hustle and physicality while pursuing returners, leading to some sensational highlights:

In contrast to the players named above, Thompson didn’t land much guaranteed money. The $0 in guaranteed money stands out since it’s on the other end of the extreme. Clearly, the backup corner is capable of overcoming the odds.

Getting a top-tier special teams tackler from undrafted free agency is some good work from the GM.

in 2023 Offseason
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Going into the 2024 NFL Draft, the Vikings have needs aplenty. And while there’s an excellent chance the Vikings outbid other teams to go up for a quarterback in the draft, there’s also a good chance that Adofo-Mensah outmuscles the competition in pursuit of this year’s best UDFAs.

The draft will conclude on Saturday, April 27th. Look for the Vikings to jump into the UDFA frenzy not too long afterwards.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.