When reviewing the draft for the Minnesota Vikings, all the trades made over the weekend must be taken into account. The Vikings entered the draft with only a handful of picks, and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was looking to gather more darts to throw. He got his wish as the Vikings ended up trading every one of their picks outside of their first-round selection. So, after deals with teams like the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers, the Vikings went from:
- Round 1, Pick 23 (23 overall)
- Round 3, Pick 24 (87 overall)
- Round 4, Pick 17 (119 overall)
- Round 5, Pick 24 (158 overall)
- Round 6, Pick 34 (211 overall)
to a final selection of:
- Round 1, Pick 23 (23 overall): Jordan Addison, WR, USC
- Round 3, Pick 39 (102 overall): Mekhi Blackmon, CB, USC
- Round 4, Pick 32 (134 overall): Jay Ward, S, LSU
- Round 5, Pick 7 (141 overall): Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU
- Round 5, Pick 30 (164 overall): Jaren Hall, QB, BYU
- Round 7, Pick 5 (222 overall): DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB
The team only added one pick, but their maneuvering placed them with four picks inside the top-150 instead of three. The question for the Vikings, as it always is post-draft, is whether they utilized these picks in the best way.
Minnesota Vikings NFL Draft Review Grade: 7.8/10
Minnesota Vikings 2023 Draft Review: Huntin’ for Picks
Best Player: Jordan Addison
Wide receiver wasn’t the biggest need for Minnesota heading into draft night, but the depth chart outside of Justin Jefferson needed to be addressed. The selection of Jordan Addison with the 23rd pick answers that question with emphasis.
Right before the Vikings’ pick, a run started on receivers with the Seahawks, Chargers, and Ravens all taking receivers in succession. Fortunately for Minnesota, Addison made it through and was still available. The USC product entered the draft as arguably the best-to-second-best receiver in the class, so his availability at 23 was obviously too much to pass up. Many thought the Vikings might go defense or even quarterback here, but the addition of Addison should bring an immediate difference-maker to the offense.
The Head-Scratcher: Mekhi Blackmon
Mekhi Blackmon, the team’s third-round pick, is an aggressive and sticky corner who will certainly be in a position to compete for starting snaps with the question marks surrounding the defensive back depth chart. What makes this pick questionable is the value compared to who was still on the board at the time. Keelee Ringo was still available, along with a plethora of quality defensive linemen. Meanwhile, Blackmon was projected as more of a fifth-round prospect by most analysts. He was a top 30 visit to Minnesota like his USC teammate Addison, so there was obviously some interest here. Perhaps the coaching staff is seeing something special in his intangibles and experience, but this is definitely a wait-and-see pick at best.
The Surprise: Jaren Hall
When the Vikings passed on a first-round quarterback, the assumption was any serious search for Kirk Cousin’s successor was over. However, Minnesota’s fifth-round selection of Jaren Hall has certainly reignited some interest in the conversation.
New #Vikings developmental QB Jaren Hall is a poised dual-threat player who had 51 TD passes, 11 INTs, and 655 rushing yards over the past two seasons at BYU. Well worth a fifth-rounder. pic.twitter.com/oyGbt5IQOD
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) April 29, 2023
His dual-threat capabilities could add some interesting wrinkles to the Vikings offense. He also has poise, instincts, and arm accuracy that are screaming to be developed further. Hall isn’t perfect by any means—there are plenty of reasons why he was available so late into the draft. Still, the combination of his availability at pick 141 and Minnesota’s willingness to gamble on his talents makes this the surprise of the draft group.
The Steal: DeWayne McBride
McBride is a balanced and aggressive running back that had gaudy numbers for UAB. Though he competed on a smaller stage, his skill set and production pop off the screen. McBride doesn’t present much receiving threat and his speed isn’t top-tier, but he’s easily a third or fourth-round talent. The fact that he was available for the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round is a steal by any measure. He should split reps with Alexander Mattison right away and could be in line for an even bigger role if Dalvin Cook ends up being traded before the beginning of the season. Not bad for a final selection.
Most Likely to Turn Heads at Training Camp: Jaren Hall Again
Addison will be looking to make a splash in training camp, but being a first-round pick makes that more of an expectation. Hall has the real opportunity to make his mark during this year’s training camp. It’ll be no secret that the coaching staff will be looking to groom Hall as a starter. And he has the potential to be a quality starter, even as a developmental quarterback and fifth-round pick. If Hall performs at training camp, it will assuredly turn heads and inflate hopes for a future after Cousins.
Jay Ward has good length and measurables for the defensive back position (6’1”, 77” wingspan). His versatility between nickel corner and safety had to be appealing for the Vikings and new defensive coordinator Brian Flores. On top of that, his college career had plenty of production (six interceptions, 20 pass defenses, two forced fumbles). This could be a quality addition to a Minnesota defense looking to add immediate playmakers.
Early in the fifth round, the Vikings decided to use their fifth (158) and sixth (211) round picks to trade up for LSU defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy. He is a strong, powerful interior lineman who can fill gaps and play stout against the rush. He isn’t very quick and can get caught up on double teams, but he has real potential to develop into the type of nose tackle Minnesota needs. Getting a player like Roy in the fifth is great value as he should see rotational (maybe starting?) snaps from day one.