Minnesota Vikings 2024 Mock Draft: Minnesota Reloads on Defense With Kool-Aid McKinstry and Payton Wilson

In this seven-round mock draft, the Minnesota Vikings focus on their defense but land a mid-round QB who could run the offense for years to come.

Few teams in the NFL endured a more frustrating season than the Minnesota Vikings in 2023. A year after a stellar record in close games, the Vikings limped to an 0-3 start despite being outscored by just 11 points. When Kirk Cousins and, subsequently, Justin Jefferson went down with injuries, the season was all but lost.

Can the Vikings reclaim the magic of 2022 through the 2024 NFL Draft?

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft Picks

The Vikings own nine draft picks. While they won’t have a third-round selection, they have two picks in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds.

  • Round 1, Pick 11: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
  • Round 2, Pick 42: Graham Barton, G, Duke
  • Round 4, Pick 104: Cameron Ward, QB, Washington State
  • Round 4, Pick 124: Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
  • Round 5, Pick 153: Keith Randolph Jr., DT, Illinois
  • Round 5, Pick 154: Jaylon Carlies, S, Missouri
  • Round 6, Pick 161: Malik Washington, WR, Virginia
  • Round 7, Pick 202: Javon Solomon, EDGE, Troy

Minnesota Vikings 7-Round 2024 NFL Mock Draft

Minnesota’s offense was inconsistent in 2023, but the majority of the issues lie on defense, where the Vikings are well-coached but need talent upgrades at all three levels. There’s a chance they’ll look at a quarterback in the first round, but Cousins is expected to return next year.

Cousins recently announced he’d be open to a “hometown discount” to stay in Minnesota, and the Vikings should explore extending him. In this mock, we’ll examine which direction Minnesota might go, assuming Cousins is still on the roster. This mock draft will include only the picks the Vikings currently hold and will include no trades.

Round 1, Pick 11: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Vikings could opt for one of the many quarterbacks that could fall, given that the depth at that position in this draft is enticing. However, in this mock, I have them working on the secondary first, a unit that was 24th in yards per game allowed, fourth worst among teams with losing records.

MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

Kool-Aid McKinstry makes the game look easy. He’s not at the same level as some of the elite corner prospects, but he allowed just 0.62 yards per coverage snap in his college career and gave up just three touchdowns in 1,285 snaps in coverage.

McKinstry didn’t face a high volume of throws at Alabama, and with the current setup of Minnesota’s secondary, that could continue there as well.

Round 2, Pick 42: Graham Barton, G, Duke

Alexander Mattison had a rough season with Minnesota but had a high volume of zone runs while putting up a few yards before contact. Graham Barton, a fringe first-rounder on my board, is the best zone run blocker in the draft and could step in immediately to fill a need at guard.

Barton is capable enough as a pass blocker to help the offense in that regard. This offense needs a boost on the interior of the line to allow its playmakers to thrive.

Round 4, Pick 104: Cameron Ward, QB, Washington State

In my opinion, Cameron Ward would be a fringe first-round prospect in any other draft class and likely would have been the highest-ranked QB in the 2022 class. In the 2024 class, many view him as just another guy, who lost behind the elite talents at the top.

Ward has NFL starting-caliber talent, with an elite arm and sturdy frame. If he’s there in the fourth round, Minnesota should take him and give him a year under Cousins.

Round 4, Pick 124: Payton Wilson, LB, NC State

Another guy that may not be available in Round 4, but would be a target if so. Payton Wilson is an ultra-athletic, ultra-productive linebacker from NC State. He had over 350 tackles at NC State and has elite size and speed for the position.

Wilson is a bit stiff in pass coverage but had several game-changing interceptions in college. He’s a great schematic fit for the Vikings’ aggressive defense and another chess piece for Brian Flores to deploy in Minnesota.

Round 5, Pick 153: Keith Randolph Jr., DT, Illinois

While teammate Jer’Zhan Newton gets most of the accolades, Keith Randolph Jr. is extremely talented as well. In a deep defensive tackle class, Randolph’s a guy who could fall into the fourth or fifth-round conversation, despite being a Day 2 talent.

Randolph brings immediate depth to a roster with just two interior defenders on next year’s payroll and could develop into a quality starter at the next level.

Round 5, Pick 154: Jaylon Carlies, S, Missouri

With their second of consecutive fifth-round picks, the Vikings address their inconsistencies on the back end with a high-end run defender in Jaylon Carlies. What he lacks in elite speed, Carlies makes up for with excellent instincts.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

Harrison Smith will be 35 when the season starts, and Carlies has the ball skills to play a similar role. Special-teams experience and positional versatility on defense are a plus.

Round 6, Pick 161: Malik Washington, WR, Virginia

Like basketball teams learned in the early 2010s, NFL coaches are realizing that it takes more than a “Big 2” to build a truly elite receiver room. Jordan Addison has done plenty to justify his status as a first-round pick, and Justin Jefferson is… Justin Jefferson.

What the Vikings need from a receiving perspective is a slot guy who can create after the catch. Enter Malik Washington, who led the country in receptions and missed tackles forced by receivers last season, all while lining up in the slot over 85% of the time.

202) Javon Solomon, EDGE, Troy

With its final selection, Minnesota takes Javon Solomon, an undersized, but extremely productive edge rusher. Solomon racked up 16 sacks as a senior and showed a good burst off the line.

The size is a concern for teams, but he’s got the talent to become a productive edge rusher in the NFL. Solomon is a low-risk, high-upside pick for Minnesota in Round 7.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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