Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, we are officially into NFL draft season. The mock drafts are going to come out more frequently, and names are going to start rising and falling on draft boards seemingly every day. It can be a lot to keep up with, but it’s a great way to get yourself familiar with names that could fill team needs. One of those team needs for the Minnesota Vikings, according to most draft analysts, is at edge rusher.
The Vikings have significant questions at the position with the uncertainty surrounding All-Pro outside linebacker Danielle Hunter and his contract situation. Most draft analysts seem to be preparing for the worst, and that’s the case with the latest mock from the folks over at Bleacher Report.
With the 11th pick in the 2024 NFL draft, Bleacher Report has the Vikings taking UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu. Here’s their analysis of the pick:
The Minnesota Vikings are yet another team with uncertainty at quarterback, though general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah already stated his intention of bringing Kirk Cousins back into the fold.
That would allow the Vikings to concentrate on addressing other areas of the roster, specifically a defense that could lose Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, Marcus Davenport, Jonathan Bullard, Jordan Hicks and Anthony Barr in free agency.
Minnesota’s front seven could use significant reinforcements. An investment in the draft class’ best pure pass-rusher, UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, would be a good start.
Even if the Vikings bring one or two of their free agents back into the fold, there are caveats. Hunter turns 30 later this year, and Davenport dealt with injuries last season. An infusion of youth should serve the Vikings’ defensive front well.
“The Vikings ranked in the bottom half of the league for sacks last season, and that was with Hunter posting a career-high 16.5,” Holder said. “Considering the free-agent status of Hunter and Co., it’s safe to say Minnesota is going to be taking a long look as pass-rushers in the draft.
“Latu is the most complete and NFL-ready rusher in this draft class. He combines great hand usage with good athleticism and strength to consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.”
Latu is becoming a popular pick for the Vikings, and for good reason. He has incredible talent and would provide the Vikings with a formidable pass-rush threat on the outside to either pair with or replace Hunter. There are some significant medical questions surrounding Latu, though, and the results of his checks at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine will go a long way towards determining his ultimate landing spot.