The 2023 NFL Draft was a crucial one for Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. What were the Minnesota Vikings‘ 2023 NFL Draft grades for the three-day event? The Vikings didn’t have an abundance of capital and had to unearth value wherever they could.
Minnesota Vikings NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 23: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
The Vikings don’t have very much capital in the 2023 NFL Draft, so whatever picks they have, they need to make them count. One of Minnesota’s biggest needs entering the draft was a complementary threat to Justin Jefferson. They scored just that amidst a run on WR prospects, taking 2021 Biletnikoff winner and USC standout Jordan Addison at No. 23 overall.
Addison was the fourth receiver off the board, and his value lines up with his tape. He’s lighter than preferred in the 170-pound range, but Addison’s an undeniably dynamic athlete with the lateral twitch and change of direction to support his profile both as a separator and a RAC threat. In 2021, particularly, he showcased his ability to win above the rim and rise vertically for passes.
Addison puts extra pressure on defenses with his combined vertical and lateral appeal, and in turn, takes pressure off Jefferson. That in and of itself is a good thing. That said, the Vikings had Will Levis available, and Kirk Cousins is entering a contract year. That might’ve been an opportunity to capitalize on, but maximizing the window with Cousins makes sense.
Round 3, Pick 102: Mekhi Blackmon, CB, USC
With the final pick in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings took USC cornerback Mekhi Blackmon.
Blackmon has intriguing qualities as a coverage defender. He has good speed and explosiveness, as evidenced by his Combine testing, and he’s also an instinctive playmaker at the catch point. His three picks and 12 deflections in 2022 are supporting evidence of that.
That said, in such a strong CB class, you have to look at how Blackmon stacks up against other prospects on the board. At 5’11”, 178 pounds, he’s noticeably underweight, and that shows up both in support and in contested situations. He also lacks elite hip fluidity for his size, And he’ll be a 24-year-old rookie.
Cornerbacks still on the board at this point included Cory Trice, Darius Rush, Carrington Valentine, Alex Austin, Jaylon Jones, Kei’Trel Clark, Kyu Blu Kelly, and Cameron Mitchell, among others — all of whom I would’ve taken over Blackmon. Blackmon does have some appeal as a playmaker, but the Vikings missed out on much greater value, upside, and immediate utility at the position.
Round 4, Pick 134: Jay Ward, S, LSU
I like this pick a lot for Minnesota. Jay Ward is an explosive, fluid athlete at 6’1”, 188 pounds, who’s played boundary cornerback, field safety, and nickel. He’s an easy mover in coverage and a rangy, proactive run support player. He could end up being a legitimate contributor as a big-slot DB, and his versatility brings value to the depth wing, regardless.
Round 5, Pick 141: Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU
Jaquelin Roy doesn’t necessarily provide anything new to the Vikings’ DL rotation. He’s a stout, boxy defensive tackle without elite athleticism, but he’s very strong against the run. That run defense utility is likely what the Vikings are after here. He’s a safe player, but options with higher upside might have been more prudent investments.
Round 5, Pick 164: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU
Now this is eye-catching. He probably isn’t the successor to Kirk Cousins, but Jaren Hall is an able creator with a good arm, solid competitive toughness, and impressive situational ball placement. His accuracy improved noticeably in 2022, and he has the traits to be a very good backup with spot-starting potential. He’s considerably better than a few QBs who have already gone.
Round 7, Pick 222: DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB
With uncertainty surrounding Dalvin Cook and the potential for turnover behind him, the Vikings spent a seventh-round pick on UAB standout DeWayne McBride.
McBride is what he is. He’s virtually non-existent as a receiving threat, but he can be a quality stable back with his frame density, contact balance, and malleable running style between the tackles. McBride may never be a full-time starter, but he’s a player you can rely on to churn out yards when you need it.
What Were the Vikings’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?
- CB, WR, LB, DT
They wouldn’t be the Minnesota Vikings if they weren’t investing in the CB position, would they? Death, taxes, and somehow needing to invest at cornerback despite doing it the previous seasons.
K.J. Osborn isn’t a bad player, but the Vikings’ strategy at WR appears to be “F it, Justin Jefferson is out there somewhere.” T.J. Hockenson helps the receiving production overall, but Minnesota needs some juice on the outside. They could also use some tonnage in the middle of their defense in the form of linebacking and interior defensive line help.
Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast
List to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.