Following their embarrassing loss to the New York Giants in the opening round of the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings locked in the 23rd pick in the upcoming draft. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will have a difficult decision to make.
Upon first glance, picking in the low 20s isn’t ideal, but the recent history looks good for the purple and gold. Indeed, Rick Spielman offered the current iteration of the Vikings two offensive cornerstones by selecting players in exactly this range. Can the new GM mirror his predecessor?
Kwesi Adodo-Mensah and The 2023 Draft
Minnesota doesn’t have too many picks heading into the draft.
At present, the team has a mere 4 selections. Now, keep in mind that the Vikings draft is going to get a boost from the NFL’s compensatory formula. Unless something unforeseen happens, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will get a late-round selection added to his total, giving him the capacity to bring in another young player.
In a 7-round draft, Adofo-Mensah begins with 5. Not ideal, but the cupboard isn’t completely bare.
Of more significance, perhaps, is what the purple GM decides to do with the 23rd pick. During this past season, the Vikings struggled to get meaningful contributions from their draft class, making the 2022 season more challenging. The hope certainly was that Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. could have added some of the needed youth and speed that fans have been clamouring for since the season’s disappointing denouement.
Unfortunately, both struggled against ineffective play and injury, limiting their impact as rookies.
Thankfully, modest output from the past draft class doesn’t guarantee the same result for this one. Minnesota’s leadership group will be looking for Day 1 contributors who can help these Vikings take the next step. Maintaining the North is the expectation; going on a deep playoff run is the hope.
The Recent History
Obviously, being near the top of the draft gives a team a better shot at landing a legit superstar, a talent capable of giving his team a weekly advantage. Minnesota’s recent history, though, gives us some reason for optimism.
In 2020, the Vikings selected Justin Jefferson from LSU with the 22nd pick. In 2021, the Vikings selected Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech with the 23rd pick. In 2023, the Vikings will have the 23rd selection; it remains to be seen who will be chosen.
Given the poor performance on defense, there’s a good chance Kwesi Adofo-Mensah opts for a defender. There is no part of the defense that couldn’t benefit from a talent infusion. I’d love to see some pass rushing help, but one could very easily make an argument for corner, defensive tackle, safety, and even linebacker (Trenton Simpson?).
One has to assume that there will be some temptation to trade down. The appeal of adding more picks is, well, appealing. GMs, quite often, like to increase their ability to bring in young talent on cost-controlled deals. On the other side of things, though, is the potential to select a game-changer for the opening game of the 2023 season.
Remember: the goal is to not only keep the North, but challenge for the conference. Nailing the first-round pick is a huge step in accomplishing that goal.
Bringing in a talent who can help the defense in the same way that Jefferson and Darrisaw help the offense would go a long way in establishing Minnesota’s significance to the 2023 season.
Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.