Loads of exciting prospects in the Vikings draft – Now we’ll see how they actually play

January 11, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Georgia Bulldogs safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings Insider, the general manager’s point of view

The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books, and it was a pretty wild ride for Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in his first draft as the primary decider. In the end, he had made six trades, drafted defensive players with Minnesota’s first six picks, and finished with four offensive players in the final rounds.

Here are my first thoughts on analyzing the draft from the Vikings’ perspective:

1. I don’t think it was wise to trade with division rivals Detroit and Green Bay in the first and second rounds. Those deals allowed the Lions to sign a fast and dynamic receiver in Jameson Williams at No. 12 overall and the Packers to select the tall and athletic Christian Watson to lead in the second round (No. 34). Let another team trade for those players, and you’re in no doubts down the road if Williams and/or Watson become stars the Vikings will now face twice a year.

It could be fine for the Vikings if those two receivers aren’t top producers or the Pro Bowlers and the players the Vikings drafted as a result of those trades — first-round safety Lewis Cine, cornerback second-rounder Andrew Booth, second-round guard Ed Ingram, third-round linebacker Brian Asamoah become productive starters, and one or more are Pro Bowlers down the road.

There were also plenty of good prospects picked by other teams in the 20 spots Minnesota rose from No. 12 to No. 32, including two safeties — Kyle Hamilton, who Baltimore picked at No. 14, and Daxton Hill, Cincinnati’s selection at No. 31. So Ciné will be compared to these actors for years to come. There could also be a second hypothesis if others could have been chosen at No. 12, as an excellent defensive tackle prospect in Jordan Davis (No. 13 – Philadelphia) is the next Aaron Donald. Or if cornerbacks Trent McDuffie (#21—Kansas City) or Kaiir Elam (#23—Buffalo) are better NFL players than Cine.

And move to the second round when the Vikings could have stayed at No. 34 before moving to No. 42 to take Booth … what if cornerbacks Roger McCreary (No. 35—Tennessee) or Kyler Gordon (No. 39—Chicago) surpass Booth?

2. I like Adofo-Mensah and his team of scouts scrambling for secondary assists with Cine, Booth and fourth-round corner Akayleb Evans. Cine and Booth, in particular, could be freshman starters if they get back to the defensive system quickly and Booth recovers as expected from training camp from his sports hernia surgery (and can stay healthy ). As I wrote last Friday, I love Cine’s size, speed, smarts, and aggressive nature as a hitter. And I think Booth is a very interesting prospect who is athletic with good ball skills. He has talent in the first round but fell out in the second round due to injury issues.

Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. Clemson, SC on Friday, December 17, 2021.

3. The Vikings’ decision not to sign a quarterback tells me head coach Kevin O’Connell wasn’t in love with this year’s QB class and knows next year will offer better picks at the most critical position. My further reading on O’Connell is that he thinks last year’s third-rounder Kellen Mond has more potential than Mike Zimmer saw in former Texas A&M QB, so O’Connell wants to work with Mond this season. During a recent media session, O’Connell said of Mond, “I thought he was really successful in college, he’s athletic, naturally accurate and can make off-curricular plays.”

If O’Connell doesn’t like what he sees in Mond’s development this season, you can bet the Vikings will draft a quarterback in the first three rounds of a best draft class of 2023, and move on. he’s not thrilled with Kirk Cousins’ performance, he could be a first- or second-round QB picked next April.

4. Like I said, Ed Ingram must eventually become a strong starter since he and Booth were the acquired players with Green Bay’s two second-round picks. Ingram is a big, strong player who lost time at LSU due to suspension after an arrest for sexual assault, and the charges were eventually dropped. He needs to stay out of trouble, and his addition sets up some great training camp competition at right guard with last year’s starter Oli Udoh, all three veteran Vikings veterans (Jesse Davis, Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann ) and last year. the third rounder who doesn’t seem to get much media attention this spring but should be in the mix – Wyatt Davis.

October 23, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers guard Ed Ingram. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

With the Vikings, as expected, not exercising the fifth-year option on center Garrett Bradbury, thus setting him up to be a free agent next March, perhaps one of the aforementioned O linemen- top can be the next starting center either in 2022 if they beat Bradbury or in 2023 if Bradbury is not re-signed.

5. The Vikings may not have needed to sign an inside linebacker as high as the third round, but I see Asamoah as an intriguing pick and a good example of picking their highest-ranked player at draft time. We’ll see if he can become a starter on the road as Pro Bowler Eric Kendricks and newcomer Jordan Hicks play this season as 30-year-old inside linebackers. Asamoah should definitely have an immediate impact on special teams with his 4.56 speed and stellar college stats as Oklahoma’s top tackle the past two seasons.

6. Ty Chandler, Minnesota running back picked in the fifth round, looks like a good choice in terms of talent with his impressive 4.38 speed and college production (3,819 scrimmage yards and 30 touchdowns at Tennessee and North Carolina). It’s also a smart move with No. 2 full-back Alexander Mattison entering the final year of his rookie deal, so while the talented Mattison is likely to move on to a bigger salary after this season, Chandler and Kene Nwangwu can battle it out. to be No. 2 behind Dalvin Cook, get playing time in the rotation and probably start a few games when Cook inevitably gets injured for a few weeks.

7. I thought the Vikings needed to draft a tight-end receiving threat with Irv Smith coming off a knee injury and Tyler Conklin having left in free agency. Seventh-round pick Nick Muse weighs in at 260 pounds, so I’d be interested to see if he’s most likely to compete with free-agent signee Johnny Mundt for playing time as a tight blocking option/ short distance.

But Muse would have pass-catching skills, so maybe he can help there and fight for the tight third point with last year’s fifth-rounder Zach Davidson, who finished 2021 on the roster. active and had 40 catches for 894 yards and 15 touchdowns. at Central Missouri in his senior varsity season. But will the team make three tight ends with O’Connell’s offense expected to feature more three-WR sets so Muse can find himself on the practice squad?

8. Other Vikings 2022 rookies not discussed in detail above – fourth-round cornerback Akayleb Evans (Missouri), fifth-round defensive end Esezi Otomewo (a former Minnesota Gopher), sixth-round tackle Vederian Lowe (Illinois) and sixth-round wide receiver Jalen Nailor (Michigan State) all bring talent in varying degrees and will compete for spots on the active roster or practice squad .

All in all, it looks like a promising Vikings draft despite early-round trade declines. But of course, time will tell and we’ll know more about how this class project ranks in a few years. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see the rookies in purple Vikings at the upcoming rookie minicamp May 14-16, then in OTAs, training camp, and the upcoming regular season.

Around the observations of the NFL:

1. I’ve always said it’s ridiculous for members of the media to rate team draft grades before seeing how players actually perform in the NFL. So I’m not going to break down the draft of the division-rival Packers, Lions and Bears at this point, except to say I like what Detroit and Green Bay did better than Chicago, which traded its pick of first round. to go up and pick Justin Fields last year. It was surprising the Bears didn’t pick an offensive lineman until the fifth round despite needing more talent there.

2. Next week – Thursday night May 12 – will see the release of the 2022 NFL schedule, so it will be fun to see the full Vikings schedule, including who they open with on September 11 or 12 and the dates for the Minnesota National Television.

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings general manager, former president of the Tennessee Titans and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the Minneapolis-based NFL IFA agent group and does other sports and media tips. work with college/business speaking. Follow and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl

It's time for the Vikings to finish with the repechage of OL at the start of the round

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