ESPN’s Matt Miller reflected on his time in Mobile at this year’s Senior Bowl and decided to do a two-round mock draft based on his findings. For the Minnesota Vikings, they address two premier positions that could cause them headaches this off-season.
At pick 11, the Vikings take Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner to shore up the pass rush, putting the return of Danielle Hunter in question.
The Vikings are at a crossroads with quarterback Kirk Cousins hitting free agency at 36 years old and coming off an Achilles tear suffered in Week 8. Could they pull the trigger on Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, Oregon’s Bo Nix or Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.? Yes, but there are needs across the board. Danielle Hunter is a free agent, and Turner would perfectly fit D-coordinator Brian Flores’ defensive wish list at edge rusher.
Turner had 10 sacks in his breakout 2023 season, and one NFC area scout thinks his ceiling is higher than former college teammate Will Anderson Jr., who went No. 3 in last year’s draft. Turner has excellent speed in space with a pro player comparison to the Jaguars’ Josh Allen. He’s my top-ranked defender in the class and would be a steal this late in the night.
At pick 42, Miller gives Minnesota their quarterback of the future in Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.
Penix’s draft stock varies depending on whom you ask, but the most consistent answer I’ve heard is the second round, given the four season-ending injuries he suffered at Indiana (two knee injuries, two shoulder injuries). Penix has excellent arm strength and velocity, and as a pure passer, he’s a first-rounder. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards in 2023 and helped lead Washington to the national title game. But those injury and durability questions push him to the Vikings.
It’s great news for Minnesota, where Kirk Cousins is set to become a 35-year-old free agent coming off an Achilles injury. Penix can be the quarterback-in-waiting if Cousins is re-signed, or the immediate starter if he is not.
Two of the looming questions for the Vikings are answered, and the direction of the franchise is solidified. Miller essentially has put Minnesota on the path to rebuilding the entire roster, and who could blame him?
If Kwesi Adofo-Mensah does decide to push the reset button, this could be a starting point well worth exploring.