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Analyzing 5 different Minnesota Vikings draft scenarios for 2022

Andrew Buller-Russ

After an offseason full of change, from a new general manager, a new head coach and several new defensive pieces to help transform the scheme from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 base, the Minnesota Vikings still have one major opportunity to improve the roster. They’re not alone, all 31 other teams will have the very same chance, but with each franchise having a different set of needs, their draft boards will look drastically different than the one in the Twin Cities.

With so many different 2022 NFL Draft scenarios possible on a day with many shocks and surprises, we thought it would be valuable to dive into a few of the potential outcomes ahead of the April 28 start date, where the Vikings currently hold the 12th pick.

Setting up the scene on Draft night

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Detroit
  3. Houston
  4. NYJ
  5. NYG
  6. Carolina
  7. NYG
  8. Atlanta
  9. Seattle
  10. NYJ
  11. Washington
  12. Minnesota

Chances are two offensive tackles (possibly three), two edge pass-rushers (possibly three), two cornerbacks, and possibly even two quarterbacks will come off the board in the first 11 selections. The first three may be locks or damn near, but two QBs in the top-11 could surprise some.

Yet, with Carolina, Atlanta, and Seattle all in the top-nine, and with others desperate for a quarterback picking below the Vikings, we could see a couple teams fall in love with the idea of taking Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett. This scenario would only improve Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s chances of his top-rated draft prospect falling down the board.

Many of the top-rated prospects (in no particular order) entering the draft are as follows:

  • Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE
  • Evan Neal, OT
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE
  • Ikem Ekwonu, OT
  • Sauce Gardner, CB
  • Kyle Hamilton, S
  • Travon Walker, EDGE
  • Derek Stingley Jr., CB
  • Garrett Wilson, WR
  • Jordan Davis, DT
  • Charles Cross, OT
  • Kenny Pickett, QB
  • Malik Willis, QB

Excluded are players such as LB Devin Lloyd, C Tyler Linderbaum, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, EDGE George Karlaftis, WR Drake London, and several other talented prospects.

Basically what I’m getting at, is the bulleted names above already account for 13 players, the additional five make it 18. The Vikings are in a prime position sitting at No. 12, meaning some players currently projected in the top-five and top-10 could very well slip on draft day.

Considering there will likely be teams looking to trade down, such as the Giants and Jets with their two top-10 selections, the players we envision going in the top third of the draft could end up on the outside looking in. This is why most teams wait until they’re on the clock before deciding to trade up or down, waiting to see which players are available when it’s their turn.

Nearing the draft, with the Vikings seemingly unlikely to make more major moves in free agency, the Vikings still have needs, but they’re set up to take the best player available. Listed below are some potential positions the team could feasibly address in the first round. Some might also add wide receiver to the list, simply due to how much of an impact a playmaker can have on an offense, which would provide an embarrassment of riches.

  • Remaining team needs for Minnesota Vikings: CB, DT/DE, C/RG, S

Related: NFL mock draft 2022: Seahawks, Steelers trade up for QBs

Minnesota Vikings draft scenario No. 1 – Both top corners are gone

Many within the Vikings community would agree, one of the top needs remaining on the roster is addressing the cornerback group. They may have a starting trio formed around Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler and Chandon Sullivan, but we’ve seen how quickly a secondary can get depleted once injuries hit. Not to mention, is there a shutdown corner in that group?

Sure P2 has all the accolades in the world, but pairing him with another young stud who can come up along the way has to be considered.

With Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. both projected to go in the top half of the first round, having either fall is a dream scenario, but this idea is far from a guarantee. In fact, odds are neither player will be available after crushing the pre-draft process. This means the Vikings will likely be facing a situation where, if they’re deadset on adding a CB on the first day, they may be better off trading down to do so.

What if there’s another player the team has their eye on, aside from a cornerback being the top pick?

A few potential names aside from a corner at No. 12 could be DT Jordan Davis, C Tyler Linderbaum, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, EDGE George Karlaftis, and several others. If it was up to me, and those were my choices? Honestly I’d prefer a trade down, but you’ll read that in scenario No. 4.

  • Sticking at No. 12, my pick would be Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Related: Minnesota Vikings mock draft: 2022 NFL Draft projections and analysis

Scenario No. 2 – Trade up from pick 12 for Stingley/Sauce

Maybe the Vikings have identified cornerback as by far their strongest need. Or maybe they simply adore the idea of drafting Gardner or pairing Stingley Jr. back up with former LSU defensive coordinator Daronte Jones in purple in the pros. Either way, the Vikings may feel content with the rest of their roster, or at least enough to risk parting with some draft capital to ensure they get their man.

In this case, we could see the Vikings trade up with the Giants at No. 7 or the Jets at No. 10 to select a cornerback. This is complicated by the fact that both teams arguably need a CB1, depending on what the G-Men do with James Bradberry.

How about a scenario where the Falcons and Seahawks are disappointed with a QB no longer being available, being willing to slide down the board a bit as they re-evaluate their franchise strategy.

Trading up from 12 into the top-10 would likely require parting with their second-round pick, No. 46, or potentially dipping into future picks instead. Depending on how highly they value the cornerback position and what Stingley or Gardner can offer, it might be a price the front office is willing to pay.

Related: Derek Stingley Jr. shines at LSU pro day, re-establishes top-10 prospect status

Scenario No. 3 – Minnesota Vikings take a QB

How about this wild idea? Say the Vikings do like Kirk Cousins, but aren’t necessarily in love with having to pay him top-dollar over the next two seasons and then afterward. No matter what, they’d have to be high on a quarterback prospect, such as Pickett or Willis to pull off such a move.

As we’ve seen from other franchises over the years, such as the Packers taking Jordan Love, the Chiefs taking Patrick Mahomes, or the 49ers selecting Trey Lance, picking the next quarterback before being done with your current one has become a popular move, especially when the starter ranks outside the top-10 of best QBs in the NFL.

Each of those situations is different and has had unique results, but the point stands, quarterback is the most valuable position on the field and if you have a chance to take one with an even higher ceiling than who you currently have, you do it. But only if the prospect is graded highly within the draft room. That’s a variable no one outside of the Vikings organization has a clue about.

If both quarterbacks (Willis and Pickett) are on the table, I’d rush to turn in the card for Willis being that the upside is undeniable. If he’s the real thing, the Vikings could be looking at an MVP-caliber player much in the same respects as Lamar Jackson, and this is coming from someone who felt re-signing Cousins was the right move this offseason.

Related: Minnesota Vikings: Evaluating the importance of a great quarterback and how it relates to Kirk Cousins

Scenario No. 4 – Trade down to add draft capital

If cornerback Trent McDuffie is all that’s left among the cornerback crop at No. 12, the Vikings should consider trading down. Not that there’s anything wrong with him as a prospect, he could be an immediate starter, but the draft is about value and if they can pick up more assets, they shouldn’t hesitate to do so.

The alternative likely means staying put, drafting a player that may be considered a reach. But if your heart tells you it’s the right move, no one will care when or what pick the player was selected at when they’re headed to the Pro Bowl at the end of the year. If they do “reach” on a prospect, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad pick, it just means they know more than we do, which is obvious.

Trading down gives the Vikings a chance to either have more draft capital next season, whether that’s used for a move for a QB then or a different direction will all depend on No. 8’s performance this season. If Captain Kirk can steer this ship to the playoffs, there won’t be any reason to replace him any time soon.

A trade down could also mean the Vikings are looking to find another immediate contributor from what many would call a deep draft class. There may not be a lot of blue-chip, can’t miss prospects at the top, but talented starters can be found in the middle rounds. With just three selections in the top-100 and then five picks from selections 156-251, the front office may value getting higher-end talent than several players who may not even crack the 53-man roster.

Related: 3 roster moves Minnesota Vikings should make after re-signing Patrick Peterson

Scenario No. 5 – Top CB prospect falls

minnesota vikings
Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services, LLC

We’ve reached the dream scenario, for some. Based on what was laid out under the “setting up the scene” section up above, it’s certainly possible a player like Derek Stingley Jr. falls all the way to pick No. 12. If this happens, the Vikings will send Roger Goodell sprinting to the podium to turn in their draft selection.

Not only does the team likely have more information on Stingley than any other team thanks to hiring Daronte Jones to coach defensive backs, they have a need for a long-term lockdown corner.

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Having a legit No. 1 cornerback can transform a defense. Remember Revis Island? Yeah, the Vikings have never seen that type of performance from a cornerback in Minnesota, even though Mike Zimmer was a defensive-backs specialist. Stingley Jr. has the potential to change that.

In closing, Stingley Jr. slipping to No. 12 would undoubtedly be the very best draft scenario possible for the Vikings in 2022, much like Christian Darrisaw fell into their laps, even after trading down to pick No. 23 a year ago.

Related: Love the Vikings? Get involved in the discussion on the Purple Pain forums