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Vikings 2023 Way Too Early Mock

I need a new hobby!

LSU v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Vikings had quite an eventful draft. I said most of what I felt during the draft but will recap just a tad.

Draft Thoughts

I do not believe the team got enough from the Lions for allowing them to move up to the #12 pick and taking a potential difference maker. I do not care what kind of new fanlged chart people provide to justify the trade. To me, it was not enough.

The trade with the Packers was great. They gave up a lot to move up unlike the Lions. I guess Kwesi learned overnight eh?

The next trade with the Colts seem like he gave up a little too much as well. Picks 53 & 77 should have been more than enough for 42 & 122 but he had to throw in 192 as well.

Trading a 2023 4th and 156 for pick 118 to get Evans was another head scratcher. Evans needs to be well worth those late night dreams.

The two Raiders trades were interesting and at least he moved up in the 7th and got back the 5th plus made up for the loss of the 6th round pick.

Lewis Cine hopefully will turn out really good. Booth might be good but if they stayed put they might have gotten him anyway by trading up from 46 to 42.

Ingram has a chance as does Asamoah but probably not until 2023. These two picks were tough to see because of who was remaining on the board.

Overall though, and to contradict myself a little, it was not too bad an outing. I always love trades. I do commend Kwesi for doing it his way and going to get players he wanted. Moving up and giving up a bit too much for Booth was a good move as he was the last top corner according to big boards. Trading what he did for Evans was OK because it is someone he wanted. I like that aggressiveness.

Here is an article where other executives and scouts discuss the Vikings draft and new GM.

https://www.si.com/nfl/vikings/news/nfl-executives-scouts-kwesi-adofo-mensah-first-draft-vikings-gm

One exec who spoke to Sando liked the trade for Minnesota, based on the idea that players drafted in the 12 to 66 range aren’t all that different.

“Looking at the picks in isolation and putting a dollar value on each one of them, I have the Detroit-Minnesota trade as a win for the Vikings, because my curve is pretty flat and the Vikings got that third-round pick,” an exec said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Jameson Williams, but it’s one of those things where you just never know on the player.”

But again, the issue some had with Adofo-Mensah’s big move was the potential precedent set by not sticking to the established market.

“Analytics tell you the draft pick has value and teams tend to underestimate the value of later picks while overestimating the value of higher picks,” an exec said. “So if you make a trade like Kwesi did, the value was accurate, but the problem is, you missed the trade market because you needed to get more. Even if it was the right value, you left money on the table.”

The reviews are interesting but do not necessarily paint Kwesi in any kind of bad light or in a negative way to me. These are just observations.

What’s done is done.


2023 Cap Thoughts

When coming up with a way too early mock, I always have to check the salary cap and try to guess what moves the team might make. It is tougher now with a new regime.

The team has 12.2M in cap space and 8.28M in effective cap space according to overthecap. The rookies should cost about 3.922M to sign.

https://overthecap.com/salary-cap-space/

https://overthecap.com/draft/

In 2023, the current cap space is 15M but that is for 38 players only. It does not include this year’s rookies who have not yet all signed. The overthecap rookie pool page which I have provided a link above has these 2023 figures for all 10 picks ...

Cine - 2,919,115
Booth - 2,066,066
Ingram - 1,448,591
Asamoah - 1,311,836
Evans - 1,092,992
Otomoewo - 60,957
Chandler - 957,952
Lowe - 928,236
Nailor - 923,170
Muse - 901,472
Total - 13,510,387

These numbers are slightly higher than the actual deals being signed but those deals are not on overthecap yet.

... if we assume all 10 make the roster then the 2023 cap space is reduced by approximately 13M and it brings the total players signed to 48. We need 3 more to get to the top 51 calculation and the minimum salary in 2023 is 750K. We have to take another 2.25M off the available cap space.

This leaves only 738K in available cap space. We will likely see this on overthecap once they update for the rookies signed. Maybe the 2023 cap number will show about 3M in cap space because the team will only have 48 players under contract?

They can add the 8.28M in leftover cap space from this year which would give them about 9M in cap space.

However, they do have some NLTBE (not likely to be earned) incentives that could lower that 2023 cap space.

If Thielen gets 100 receptions he gets an extra 667K in 2022 and 750K in 2023, and 800K in 20024.
If Thielen gets 1375 yards he gets an extra 667K in 2022 and 750K in 2023, and 800K in 20024.
If Za’Darius Smith is active for more than one game he will get 176,470 per game which could end up being 3M off the 2023 cap.
If Za’Darius Smith gets 8.5 sacks he gets 500K, if he gets 10.5 sacks, he gets 750K, and if he gets 12.5 sacks he gets 1M. It appears to be a 1M max. This may come off the 2022 cap space.

I am not sure about any other incentives that will move the needle.

I’ll assume Smith reaches his incentives but Thielen will not. That gives the team about 6M in cap space for 2023.

The main free agents in 2023 are Garrett Bradbury, Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Armon Watts, Irv Smith Jr, Oli Udoh, Alexander Mattison, Olabisi Johnson, Kris Boyd, Jordan Berry, & Greg Joseph.

The team could try to bring back any of these players with Sullivan, Peterson, and Smith Jr. the likely top 3.

There are some contract triggers next year too.

https://overthecap.com/contract-triggers-calendar/

Year : Date : Player : Trigger : Base Salary : Roster Bonus
2023 : February 15 : Patrick Peterson : 2023 contract year voids : $0 : $0
2023 : February 20 : Jesse Davis : Contract voids : $0 : $0
2023 : February 23 : Dalvin Tomlinson : Contract voids : $0 : $0
2023 : March 19 : Brian O’Neill : Salary is guaranteed : $14,400,000 : $0
2023 : March 19 : Za’Darius Smith : $5.05 million is guaranteed : $9,450,000 : $0
2023 : March 19 : Adam Thielen : $11.817 million is guaranteed : $11,817,647 : $0
2023 : March 19 : Chris Reed : $500,000 is guaranteed : $2,450,000 : $0
2023 : March 20 : Dalvin Cook : $2M is guaranteed : $10,400,000 : $0
2023 : March 20 : Harrison Smith : $1.25 million is guaranteed : $14,700,000 : $0
2023 : March 20 : Kirk Cousins : Roster bonus due : $10,000,000 : $20,000,000
2023 : March 20 : Jordan Hicks : $1.5 million is guaranteed : $4,450,000 : $0
2023 : March 20 : Harrison Phillips : Base salary is guaranteed : $4,450,000 : $0

It is possible that the team could find a trade partner for Cousins before his March 20th roster bonus is due. They would save 17.5M in cap space if he is traded with a pre-June 1st designation. I do not think they have any plans of doing that as they did not bother to draft a QB when provided every opportunity in this draft. They really are captains who are willing to go down with the ship. Besides, I doubt any team will want a 35 year old QB with a 30M salary who does not have many playoff appearances during his time as a starter. I expect that they will be smart enough to let him play it out.

It was a surprise to see them NOT draft a nose tackle considering Tomlinson has a 7.5M dead money cap hit next year unless they extend him. They had the chance to draft Travis Jones twice and passed. Although, they did sign a huge defensive tackle, Tyarise Stevenson, as an UDFA. Maybe they hope to extend Tomlinson for 8-10M per year?

They converted 8M of Harrison Smith’s 2022 salary into a bonus and restructured Thielen’s deal which could amount to a raise if he meets incentives. If they move Smith they eat 11.7M in dead money and if they move Thielen they eat 13.55M in dead money. I expect the team will absorb the 19.2M cap hit for Smith and 19.96M cap hit for Thielen next year.

Kendricks will be in the last year of his deal and if they moved him they would save 9.5M in cap space and eat 1.93M in dead money.

Cook has a 14M cap hit and if they moved him they would save 7.9M in cap space and eat 6.5M in dead money.

Ham has a 3.8M cap hit and if they moved him they would save 3M in cap space and eat 750K in dead money.

If they move all three of these players, which the odds are fairly high, they would create an additional 20M in cap space bringing the available amount to 26M.

They could continue to kick the can down the road by restructuring some deals like Cousins and O’Neill. Analytics may inform the team to not utilize restructures unless it was the last resort. The team already is set to absorb 7.5M in dead money for Tomlinson, 750K for Peterson, and 750K for Jesse Davis for a total of 9M in dead money for 2023.

I am not going to suggest any moves now but just laying out some possibilities. If there is something wrong please feel free to comment.

That leaves the elephant in the room.

Danielle Hunter will be in the last year of his deal and has a 13.12M cap hit but is only set to receive 5.5M in cash. I do not see him playing in 2023 for that amount especially if he gets double digit sacks. I was quite surprised that the team decided to convert and spread out his entire 18M roster bonus. If they do want to keep him then it is going to at least cost as much as Maxx Crosby received this year which was a 4 yr 94M deal.

They could give him a 25M signing bonus with one void year added and

Salaries of 2M in 2023, 20M in 2024, 23M in 2025, 23.5M in 2025, & 25.5M in 2026.

Cap hits of 14.62M in 2023, 30.62M in 2024, 34.12M in 2025, 30.5M in 2026 (he will turn 31 in October of 2025), and 5M in 2027 (void year).

This amounts to a 4 year 96M deal or 24M per year.

Will that be enough though? I do not think they want to go past age 31 with high salaries. I expect them to get something done but the previous restructures really have them in a tough spot because those huge cap hits will be tough to absorb. It makes the decision of not drafting an edge rusher this year even more perplexing. The edge rusher draft class in 2023 does not look as strong as the class this year.

Kicking the can down the road eventually catches up to the team.

Unless they cut some veterans and fan favorites it is going to be tight again cap wise next year.

So what can we expect in the draft next year assuming we at least make the playoffs?

Would it be wise to draft a QB early to sit behind Cousins in his presumed last season?


If you made it this far you got issues.

In summary, the team could have about 6M in cap space to start off next offseason before making any moves. This assumes they will not make any in-season moves which they really have not done besides dumb trades (Chris Herndon & Yannick Ngakoue). It also assumes Smith reaches his per game bonuses.

They can create 20M by moving Kendricks, Cook, and Ham all of which are very distinct possibilities.

There are a couple of restructures they could do to create more room but this is more of kicking the can.


Mock Draft

TRADES

Trade Partner: Dallas Cowboys

Sent: Round 1 Pick 19

Received: Round 1 Pick 24, Round 4 Pick 24, Round 4 Pick 33

...

Trade Partner: Kansas City Chiefs

Sent: Round 2 Pick 19

Received: Round 2 Pick 28, Round 3 Pick 38

...

Trade Partner: San Francisco 49ers

Sent: Round 3 Pick 19

Received: Round 3 Pick 25, Round 5 Pick 25

...

24: R1 P24 QB Will Levis - Kentucky 6’3” 232 4.72

New Mexico State v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

60: R2 P28 WR Zakhari Franklin - UTSA 6’1” 185 4.49

2021 C-USA Championship - UTSA v Western Kentucky Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

89: R3 P25 TE Cameron Latu - Alabama 6’5” 250 4.62

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

102: R3 P38 C John Michael Schmitz - Minnesota 6’4” 320 5.20

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Guaranteed Rate Bowl - West Virginia v Minnesota Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

127: R4 P24 S Demani Richardson - Texas A&M 6’1” 210 4.52

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Auburn at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

136: R4 P33 G Andrew Vorhees - USC 6’6” 320 5.12

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 Utah at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

155: R5 P19 DL PJ Mustipher - Penn State 6’4” 326 5.18

Indiana v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

161: R5 P25 EDGE K.J. Henry - Clemson 6’4” 260 4.70

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Cheez-It Bowl - Clemson v Iowa State Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

195: R6 P19 RB Mohamed Ibrahim - Minnesota 5’10” 210 4.52

Minnesota v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

213: R6 P37 EDGE Richard Jibunor - Troy 6’3” 232 4.47

Arkansas v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

215: R6 P39 LB DaShaun White - Oklahoma 6’0” 225 4.58

Oklahoma v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Obviously, most of these players wont be available where I have them here right?

I wonder if they will take a QB next year?

An alternate mock just because you deserve it!

TRADES

Trade Partner: Kansas City Chiefs

Sent: Round 2 Pick 19

Received: Round 2 Pick 28, Round 3 Pick 38

...

Trade Partner: New York Giants

Sent: Round 2 Pick 28

Received: Round 3 Pick 3, Round 5 Pick 3

...

Trade Partner: Dallas Cowboys

Sent: Round 3 Pick 19

Received: Round 3 Pick 24, Round 5 Pick 24

...

Trade Partner: Buffalo Bills

Sent: Round 5 Pick 3, Round 6 Pick 19

Received: Round 4 Pick 30, Round 6 Pick 30

...

19: R1 P19 CB Joey Porter Jr. - Penn State

67: R3 P3 EDGE Isaiah Foskey - Notre Dame

88: R3 P24 S DeMarcco Hellams - Alabama

102: R3 P38 C John Michael Schmitz - Minnesota

133: R4 P30 G Andrew Vorhees - USC

155: R5 P19 DL PJ Mustipher - Penn State

160: R5 P24 WR Jonathan Mingo - Mississippi

206: R6 P30 RB Mohamed Ibrahim - Minnesota

213: R6 P37 LB SirVocea Dennis - Pittsburgh

215: R6 P39 S Ja’Von Hicks - Cincinnati