The Minnesota Vikings remain ‘in the hunt’ for a wild-card berth in the NFC, but at 6-7, the reality is this team still has a ways to go before it can be considered a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl.
The Vikings currently hold eight picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, and despite having a slight pulse for the postseason, their first-rounder is trending to be somewhere in or around the top 15 picks. It’s highly unlikely Minnesota will select a quarterback to replace Kirk Cousins anytime soon, but if there was ever a draft class that could fill that eventual need, it’s this year. The run on quarterbacks will probably begin right around the Vikings’ current pick, and there are some interesting players like Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder that at least warrant consideration.
I’m taking this team in a different direction in this mock draft, however. I think Cousins still has a few productive seasons left in the tank. While he certainly isn’t a franchise quarterback, the Vikings could do a whole lot worse. I’m going to kick the quarterback can down the road.
Let’s get mocking.
Round 1, Pick 12: Jaquan Brisker, SAF, Penn State
Brisker is a player on the rise as the 2022 NFL Draft inches closer to kicking off. He’s a balanced defender against the run and pass, and as TDN’s Kyle Crabbs noted in his report of him, he’d be a strong SAF1 in most draft classes. He just happens to be stuck in the same class as Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton. Regardless, the Vikings land a fantastic running mate for Harrison Smith in Round 1.
Round 2, Pick 43: Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
Whether you like the first two picks or not, get ready for the Vikings to invest heavily into their secondary in the early rounds. Kendrick is an example of the kind of cornerback they’ll likely target, too. He’s a high-ceiling prospect who only began playing cornerback in 2019 (originally a wide receiver). Kendrick has a natural corner’s traits, from his physical makeup to his movement skills. He’ll eventually emerge as a starter, especially for a team as cornerback-needy as the Vikings.
Round 3, Pick 74: Phidarian Mathis, iDL, Alabama
This would be a nice value pick for the Vikings. They add depth and some beef to their defensive line in Mathis. More of a run defender than a disruptive pass rusher, Mathis would offer the Vikings help on early downs against the talented crop of NFC North running backs (Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, David Montgomery, and D’Andre Swift).
Round 5, Pick 166: Chris Paul, iOL, Tulsa
The middle rounds are always the best time to add some depth along the interior of the offensive line, and that’s what the Vikings do with this selection of Paul, who has experience at offensive tackle but will best be suited as a guard in the NFL. Paul has above-average strength and good enough movement skills to project as a fantastic value selection with upside that extends beyond what’s normally landed this late in the draft. Don’t rule out his ability to play tackle in the league, either. He’s a name to monitor over the next few months, especially during the week of the Senior Bowl where he’ll have a chance to prove he can play wherever NFL teams want him to.
Round 6, Pick 183: Cordell Volson, OT, North Dakota State
The Vikings go the traditional offensive tackle route here in the sixth round with the selection of Volson, who has the classic offensive tackle’s frame (6-foot-6, 312 pounds) and good-enough athletic ability to at least get a shot on the edge. His best play is in the run game, where TDN’s Drae Harris said Volson is a “nasty, mean finisher.”
Round 6, Pick 192: Trae Barry, TE, Boston College
Barry makes back-to-back picks of very tall players. At 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, Barry is one of the tallest players in the entire draft. He isn’t gawky, either. TDN’s Joe Marino said Barry “has terrific body control and terrific length which he knows how to maximize at the catch point and extend his catch radius.” That’s a scary thought: a dude who’s 6-foot-7 and extends his catch radius. The injury to promising second-year tight end Irv Smith Jr. makes the tight end position at least one that Minnesota has to add to before the end of the draft, and Barry is a logical choice here.
Round 6, Pick 204: Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland
The Vikings have been spoiled by the play of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and while it appears the duo still has at least a season or two of top-notch production coming, adding a young player like Demus Jr. is a smart choice. The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder has the height-weight-speed combination teams are drawn to this late in the draft, and if he cracks the low-4.5s in the 40-yard dash this winter, his draft stock is certain to rise. For now, he’s a nice developmental wideout with contributor’s traits.
Round 7, Pick 233: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
Let’s finish this Vikings mock draft with some help for the second level of the defense in Pappoe. Much like the Demus Jr. pick, Pappoe is a good athlete who’ll bring quickness and agility to the league. He should crack the 4.4s in the 40-yard dash and might leap better than 40 inches in his vertical jump, too. Guys like that don’t fall this far, but until he registers those numbers, a leg injury suffered early in the season has hindered his ability to rise above the mid-to-late day-three range (for now).