If Every Trade Partner Declines, Who Could the Vikings Draft with Picks No. 11 & No. 23?

2023 NFL Draft
Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys on the clock in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The consensus far and wide is that Minnesota is destined to pull off another blockbuster swap.

A week ago, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah orchestrated a stunning trade with the Texans, sending out a pair of 2nd-round selections for Houston’s No. 23 in the 2024 NFL Draft (alongside a late-round pick shuffle). Now sitting on No. 11 and No. 23, Minnesota appears to be in an excellent position to jump up the board. Could the Vikings actually be forced to pivot from that plan?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah react during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, the major caveat with the assumed approach is that NFL trades require a minimum of two teams. If the Vikings want to buy a Top 5 selection, there must be a team willing to sell a Top 5 selection.

Adofo-Mensah recently told KFAN’s Paul Allen that there’s a “preferred scenario” for the draft. One need not be a graduate of The Sherlock Holmes School of Detective Work to connect the dots for what kind of deal Minnesota could be looking for next month (as some have done). And yet the stubborn reality remains that even if a QB is the preference, the Vikings still need to persuade a trade out of a team.

If that doesn’t happen, how could the Vikings use their opening-round picks?

Who Could the Vikings Snag at No. 11 & No. 23?

No doubt, the defense needs more talent.

Bringing in edge rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel looks smart. The pair have the upside to be a disruptive twosome in Brian Flores’ ultra-aggressive defense. Blake Cashman could conceivably be a nice complement to Ivan Pace while Shaquill Griffin is going to push for a starting job alongside Byron Murphy.

Dec 24, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) walks off the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Even with these additions, the Vikings’ defense hasn’t fully arrived.

One thinks of the abundance of talent at edge rusher. The PFF draft board includes Dallas Turner at No. 16, Jared Verse at No. 17, and Laiatu Latu at No. 20. Shifting the pass rushing focus to the interior of the defensive line — there’s a major need here, folks — could involve sinking a high pick into Byron Murphy (No. 9) or Jer’Zhan Newton (No. 11).

Dec 31, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) reacts during the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2021 Cotton Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Being able to snag a pair of those players could realistically lead to a terrifying pass rush in Minnesota, blending elite, young talent with veterans who have proven to be productive in the NFL. Flores would be a very happy man.

But then there are other areas of the roster that would welcome a bit more help. Several corners appear promising, with Quinyon Mitchell getting plenty of praise from PurplePTSD managing editor Josh Frey. Mitchell finds himself at No. 10 on the PFF board.

Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) is hit by Toledo Rockets cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (27) as he catches a touchdown pass during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Toledo Rockets At Ohio State Buckeyes

Even the offense has several areas that need fortification. The offensive line is lacking in depth and there’s currently a glaring hole at the LG spot. The PFF top 32 features several college tackles and a couple college centers. Would Minnesota consider any of them for an OG assignment?

At a different point in the aforementioned chat with Paul Allen, Adofo-Mensah notes that doing the trade with the Texans was about gaining a ton of flexibility: “We just looked at every scenario, and said, ‘OK, well, what if this happens? How would you play this out? Or if this happens, how would you play this out?’ And we just thought that that move gave us the best flexibility for whatever can happen.”

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Not too long afterwards, he points toward a pair of possible paths: “There’s ways you can build a championship team with certain types of quarterbacks [or] certain types of players around them. We’re trying to set ourselves up to be one of those.”

Adofo-Mensah has been consistent on this idea, arguing that top NFL teams find success within two broad categories. First, there can be a franchise QB who leads a team to contention (Mahomes in KC). Second, there can be a totally loaded roster that helps push a team to the top spot (Purdy in SF). Owning a pair of opening-round selections is going to allow the Vikings’ GM to pursue one of these paths in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In other words, a QB trade up isn’t automatic. If nothing materializes, then Adofo-Mensah seems fully willing to invest in other ares of the roster to support the quarterbacks who are currently available.

The 2024 NFL Draft takes place from April 25th-27th.

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.