The Full Gamut of Minnesota’s Possible Draft Slots as Week 18 Nears

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Technically, the Vikings’ possible draft slot goes from 9th to 32nd. But, to be sure, the actual reality of things is far more narrow.

At present, Minnesota is the proud owner of the 2024 NFL Draft’s 12th pick. If the season ended today, the Vikings would be in that position. The issue, of course, is that the season still has another game that needs to be played. The wins and losses around the NFL — which is to say nothing of what the Vikings decide to do against the Lions — will play into the final draft order. So, let’s take a look at what’s realistic, likely, and possible.

The Full Gamut of Possible Draft Slots for the Vikings

First, some of the basics.

The Minnesota Vikings own a whopping nine draft picks. The hearty helping of picks means that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be able to layer cost-controlled players into a roster that’s going to boast some high-end talent making high-end money (Justin Jefferson, Christian Darrisaw, T.J. Hockenson, and maybe Danielle Hunter. Oh, and then there’s Kirk Cousins).

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during the first quarter against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Sensibly enough, Vikings fans are spending most of their time wondering about that opening-round selection. The Vikings, as you may have heard, are barrelling toward a time of QB uncertainty. The draft, as you may have heard, promises to offer a pile of QBs with major upside.

So, there has been no shortage of speculation about Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell sinking their 1st into a quarterback.

The Caleb Williams and Drake Maye fantasy is dead unless the GM pulls off a major swap. And while that chance can never be outright eliminated for the man who has pulled off nineteen trades, the greater chance rests in Minnesota staying closer to their original draft slot.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah reacts during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As a result, we begin at pick #12. A cluster of four teams are sitting at 7-9. In theory, the other three teams — the Falcons (9th), Bears (10th), and Raiders (11th) — could all win while Minnesota loses. The end result would be Minnesota jumping into the top 10, snatching the 9th slot as the other teams slide down the draft board.

A pile of Vikings fans will be hoping for precisely this possibility.

On the other end of things is picking 32nd. Defeating Detroit and then seeing the Week 18 Rube Goldberg Machine do its thing could result in sneaking in as the NFC’s 7th seed. The Vikings could then do the impossible by overcoming every foe on the way to their first ever Super Bowl. If that occurs, then Minnesota will draft 32nd.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Super Bowl Ring Ceremony Red Carpet
Jun 15, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Red Carpet Ceremony at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Much more likely would be a victory while still missing the postseason. At 8-9, the Vikings could find themselves in a tie with the aforementioned trio and then there are the current cluster of 8-8 squads: the Saints (13th), Broncos (14th), Seahawks (15th), and Bengals (16th). The NFL would then need to consider a variety of tiebreakers to get the precise placement in the draft ironed out. Strength of schedule is going to be the first critical factor for breaking ties.

For a variety of reasons, we won’t delve too far into these tiebreakers, instead nestling into the comfort that emanates from what’s probable. The Vikings will either finish 7-10, 7-9-1, or 8-9. That kind of record, based on how things currently look, will mostly likely lead to picking somewhere from 9th to 16th. So, the upper half of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Every Draft Pick Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Has Played a Role in Making
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sport.

One final word.

Drafting a quarterback makes a pile of sense. The new regime likely wants to get their own franchise QB and leveraging the rookie deal savings can complement a talented, well-paid roster. What cannot happen, though, is letting the pursuit of that young QB cloud objective analysis.

If the Vikings are sitting in the 9th spot and there isn’t a QB who is worthy of being picked there, then the options are to trade down or to pick a different position. Drafting a bust of a QB at 9th does nothing to help Minnesota accomplish its ultimate goal.

Far better would be to draft an excellent player at a premium position. Consider, for instance, the previous trio of drafts. In 2021, edge rusher Micah Parsons was picked 12th; in 2022, wide receiver Garrett Wilson was picked 10th; in 2023, defensive tackle Jalen Carter was picked 9th. Wouldn’t it be better to onboard one of those excellent players rather than reaching for a Christian Ponder?

Alas, the Vikings’ GM is going to get the final call on how things proceed with the team’s 1st-round pick. Just know that the selection is going to land anywhere from 9th to 32nd but will likely be between 9th and 16th.

Kickoff between the Vikings and Lions takes place on Sunday, January 7th at 12 p.m. The outcome of that game will tell us a lot about where things are trending for the upcoming draft.

Editor’s Note: Shout out to Tankathon and the NFL website for offering up some helpful resources. Pro Football Reference, too.

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.