The Minnesota Vikings are heading into the 2023 offseason with a lot of holes on their roster that need to be filled. With key players likely to leave in free agency the Vikings need to make smart choices in the draft to replenish their talent pool.
Fortunately, the 2023 NFL draft is loaded with talented players who could help fill these needs. In this mock draft, we’re going to take an aggressive approach and trade up when we try and secure top talent for the Vikings by using the Rich Hill trade chart.
30. North Carolina WR Josh Downs
Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Vikings Receive: 30th Overall (196), 62nd Overall (84), 94th Overall (41) = Total 321
Eagles Receive: 23rd Overall (245), 87th Overall (48) = Total 293
The Vikings strike a deal with the Eagles, convincing them to overpay slightly in exchange for moving up. The move to trade back and still stay in the first round is crucial as they can ensure whoever they take has a fifth-year option.
Taking Downs is a no-brainer here. He plays a premium position, and he is a dynamic wide receiver who can help pull attention away from Justin Jefferson. Downs doesn’t have the biggest size, but he has a knack for always coming down with the ball and has the speed and route-running ability to burn defensive backs.
This move would provide legitimate targets for the Vikings’ offense for the next half-decade or more.
62. Wisconsin DL Keeanu Benton
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Benton drops in this mock draft, and the Vikings capitalize. With Dalvin Tomlinson’s status up in the air about whether he’ll return to the Vikings, there is a need for an interior defensive lineman.
Benton has all the traits you could want from an interior defensive lineman in Brian Flores’ scheme. He’s got violent hands and the power and quickness to shed blockers and sift through traffic to make stops against the run.
While his pass-rushing abilities are a little raw, there is a chance they can be developed in the NFL. Benton finished fourth in college football last season among defensive tackles with 11 quarterback hits. Surround him with talent at the next level, and he could prove to be a steal here in the second round.
79. Stanford CB Kyu Blu Kelly
Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Vikings Receive: 79th Overall (57), 164th Overall (9) = Total 66
Colts Receive: 94th Overall (41), 119th Overall (24) , 160th Overall (10) = Total 75
Vikings have to overpay now to make a jump up as they can’t afford to leave on day two of the NFL Draft without a cornerback. Here they get a guy with extreme upside. Kelly is an athletic cornerback who has scheme versatility and crazy upside.
While he likely won’t start day one, he has all the traits you’d want in a cornerback. He’s got good speed, is comfortable playing inside and outside, and has a great understanding of the position. Vikings fans can feel confident with this pick to round out day two.
164. Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
There is uncertainty at the running back position for the Vikings. There are rumblings that Dalvin Cook may be on his way out, and Alexander Mattison is an impending free agent. While the Vikings do have Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler under contract, it’s good to have competition.
While Vaughn’s size is on the smaller end, he’s about as elusive and versatile a running back as you’ll find in the draft. He’s shifty and is a true threat as a pass catcher. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vaughn flourish in the Vikings’ offense.
177. Jackson St LB Aubrey Miller
Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings may move on from both Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks due to their performance and the fact that cutting them would save over $14 million on the salary cap. Doing so, however, would leave a big hole at the linebacker position.
While Miller is not likely to come in on day one and be a guy who can make an impact in the starting lineup, he’s still got some potential. Miller brings with him speed and the athleticism to help out on special teams and maybe work himself into the starting lineup in a pinch.
Vikings Happy Hour
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