Usually the first week of April is when the Vikings host their ‘Top-30’ draft picks, which is coming up soon. Players selected to Top-30 visits usually have a better likelihood of being drafted by the host team, but sometimes teams can use them to create a smokescreen around which players really interest them the most. And not just Top-30 visits either- any meeting whether at the Combine, a private workout, at the Senior Bowl, or a Pro-Day can be used for either purpose. But teams want to complete a full due diligence on players they draft- particularly players they draft highly- and that frequently means meeting them in-person in some forum where the visit is communicated publicly. Or sometimes just along back-channels among NFL insiders to be passed along to other teams doing oppo research. So, not every draft prospect meeting is a smokescreen. Most are legitimate due diligence, although sometimes that due diligence results in a player being downgraded or taken off a team’s draft board.
The Vikings currently have the following draft picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft:
- #23 (first-round)
- #87 (third-round)
- #119 (fourth-round)
- #158 (fifth-round)
- #211 (sixth-round)
Vikings Draft Prospect Meetings So Far
Be that as it may, the Vikings have met with a number of draft prospects in one form or another. Here are the players the Vikings have met with, or plan to meet, so far by order of their ranking on the PFF Draft Board (in parentheses). Keep in mind that there are a wide variety of rankings and scouting reports on most of these players- even more than usual I’d say. Links to the player’s NFL.com draft profile can be seen by clicking on their name. Relative athletic scores (RAS) provided where available.
Will Levis, Quarterback, Kentucky (4)
Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida (6)
The Vikings also met with Levis and Richardson at the Combine. Richardson has a Dante Culpepper comparison, mainly due to similar size and athleticism, but with more development needed as a passer. Levis is a more polarizing prospect among scouts- some think he’s QB1 in this draft class, while others rank him much lower. Both Levis and Richardson are possibilities to fall further into the first round, and that’s probably why the Vikings met with them- to complete their due diligence if they were to fall far enough where the Vikings were in a position to draft them. However, at the moment both quarterbacks are frequently mocked to be drafted in the top ten, if not the top five, so the likelihood of the Vikings moving up to draft either one seems unlikely.
Joey Porter Jr., Cornerback, Penn State (16)
The Vikings met Porter at the Combine. Porter is considered among the top-tier cornerbacks in this year’s draft, and his length is ideal for a press corner. Porter had a 73.2 overall PFF grade last year at Penn State, including a 77.4 coverage grade. His run defense grade was significantly lower at 53.2, but his overall size and athleticism and 40% forced incompletion rate last season (best among Power-Five CBs) position him to be a good press-man cornerback in the NFL. The Vikings would need a little luck for him to fall to them at #23, but he would be a good scheme fit in Brian Flores’ scheme.
Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver, Boston College (24)
The Vikings met with Flowers at the Combine. Flowers is more of a slot-type receiver, given his size (5’9”, 182 lbs.) and I tend to doubt the Vikings would use their first-round pick to fill that need. It’s also worth mentioning that slot-type receivers tend not to get drafted this high, and most other draft boards have Flowers ranked much lower- 2nd or even 3rd round. He may be more of a consideration for the Vikings at #87 than he would be at #23, however.
Cam Smith, Cornerback, South Carolina (38)
The Vikings met with Smith at the Combine. Smith checks all the boxes for desired athleticism at the cornerback position, although he’s a bit light at just 180 pounds. Smith has had some minor injuries that have caused him to miss some games in college, and after earning an 88.4 overall PFF grade in 2021 working as an outside cornerback, his grade declined noticeably in 2022 to 65.1 when he moved to play both slot and outside cornerback. High IQ and short-area quickness. Smith could be a consideration if the Vikings opt to trade down with their first pick. Some have him as more of a 3rd round pick too, so potentially at #87 too. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to be a great scheme fit according to some scouts- more of a zone corner- so perhaps he’s not an intended target.
Karl Brooks, DL, Bowling Green (56)
The Vikings have invited Brooks to a Top-30 visit. Brooks (6’3”, 304 lbs.) is a 3-4 defensive end candidate in the Vikings’ scheme. Though a smaller school prospect from Bowling Green, Brooks’ PFF grade rose steadily each season to 93.0 last season. He had elite grades as a pass rusher and run defender. While PFF has him ranked 56th, he’s more likely to be drafted in the late 3rd or early 4th round, which would make him a viable option for the Vikings at #87 or possibly #119.
Eli Ricks, Cornerback, Alabama (61)
The Vikings met with Ricks at the Combine. He’s a press-man corner but his draft projection varies widely. Some have him as a late 2nd-3rd round pick, others as nothing more than a camp body. The issue is that while he can be a good press-man corner, he can get a step behind in defending vertical routes, lacks burst and balance, and avoids contact. He’s not thought to be a top-end athlete. But he was a top corner his freshman year at LSU, but injuries derailed his last two seasons. He switched to Alabama last year but didn’t start until half-way through the season- Nick Saban hinted he was struggling in practice. Probably not a player to take before Day Three, and maybe not at all, depending on whether his issues can be fixed.
Julius Brents, Cornerback, Kansas State (62)
The Vikings met with Brents at the Combine. He’s likely a mid-round option at CB for the Vikings, although he’s also a candidate to transition to free safety potentially too. He’s got the size and length to be a good press-man corner, but not the top-end speed to stay with speedier receivers all the time.
Isaiah Foskey, Defensive End, Notre Dame (64)
The Vikings met with Foskey at the Combine. Nice length and athleticism for an edge rusher, Marcus Davenport comparable. Needs more of a pass rush toolbox but has the traits to develop. Can be effective as both a pass rusher and run defender. Could be a second-round pick, however, and the Vikings don’t currently have a second-round pick. Could be an option with a trade down in from #23.
John Michael Schmitz, Center, Minnesota (68)
The Vikings met with Michael Schmitz at the Combine and again at the Gophers pro day. He has a wide range in terms of draft projection. Some have him as high as #20, others more of a 3rd round pick. It’s not seen as a strong draft class for interior offensive linemen, so that may have something to do with it. One thing that might hurt Schmitz’s draft stock is that he’s been losing weight. He was listed at 320 pounds with the Gophers but was 301 pounds at the Combine. That’s not an insignificant issue for the Vikings, particularly as Garrett Bradbury has struggled to maintain weight. Schmitz is seen as having a better anchor in pass protection- something Bradbury has struggled with- but is he enough of an upgrade overall to spend an early draft pick on?
Darnell Washington, Tight End, Georgia (71)
The Vikings met with Washington at the Combine. He’s one of the better blocking tight-end options in this draft class. He’s a big, athletic tight-end with length but in need of some development as both a run blocker and especially a receiver. Having acquired Josh Oliver in free agency, however, the Vikings may have less of an interest in Washington. Perhaps if he dropped into Day Three, they may consider him as a backup, but this seems unlikely.
Kelee Ringo, Cornerback, Georgia (74)
The Vikings met with Ringo at the Combine. He’s a bit of a polarizing prospect as some analysts have him as a first-round prospect up there with Joey Porter Jr. while others place him as a 2nd-3rd round one. The polarizing aspect of his game is that while he’s got prototypical size and speed for the position, his agility isn’t as good and he can allow separation at the break. Still, as a press-man corner he could become a good one. Ringo and Porter seem like better scheme fits for Brian Flores’ scheme as bigger, more physical corners that can play press-man coverage.
DeWayne McBride, Running Back, UAB (80)
The Vikings had a private workout with McBride, who was a man among boys in the FBS. 7.2 yards per carry average for his college career. Over 1,700 yards rushing in 11 games last season. 94.1 PFF overall grade. 36% forced mistackle rate. But level of competition an issue. An FBS Bijon Robinson but without the receiving ability.
Tyjae Spears, Running Back, Tulane (98)
The Vikings met with Spears at the Combine. Spears’ production at Tulane was off the charts, elite PFF grades and elusive ratings, except as a zone scheme runner- much better in gap scheme runs. Not as good in pass protection- as is often the case with backs coming out of college. Probably more of a Day Three consideration for the Vikings.
DeMarvion Overshown, Linebacker, Texas (99)
The Vikings met with Overshown at the Combine. Former safety who transitioned to linebacker and a good blitzer. Had a breakout season last year, but still needs development. Has the skills and traits to be good in coverage and is a good blitzer. Good scheme fit for Brian Flores’ defense. Could be a target with the Vikings’ third or fourth round pick.
Gervon Dexter, Defensive Tackle, Florida (118)
The Vikings met with Dexter at the Combine. Mid-round 3-4 defensive end prospect. Has good size and athleticism for the position but plays with high pad level and low motor at times. PFF grade went down last season from the year before. Draft stock has been falling. A development project with a couple red flags. Day Three possibility.
Zach Evans, Running Back, Ole Miss (130)
The Vikings met with Evans at the Combine. Productive back at Ole Miss- in the SEC. Not as elusive as the other backs the Vikings have met with, but still very productive in the best conference in college football. Could be an option for the Vikings on Day Three.
Olusegun Oluwatimi, Center, Michigan (141)
The Vikings met with Oluwatimi at the Combine. Oluwatimi, like John Michael Schmitz, have a wide variety of scouting reports and draft projections. Some have Oluwatimi as the top center and IOL in the draft, others have him well down the list. Oluwatimi allowed just 9 pressures in his last season at Michigan, and no sacks. He allowed just three sacks in three seasons. Back-to-back overall PFF grades of 80 his last two seasons. The Vikings, if they’re looking to potentially replace Bradbury, could do worse than Oluwatimi. Like JM Schmitz, where he falls in the draft could very impact whether the Vikings choose to spend a draft pick here.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Wide Receiver, West Virginia (145)
6’4”, 221 pounds, 4.38” 40-time WR prospect the Vikings met at the Combine. He wasn’t as productive as his traits would suggest, however, and needs development route running. His Combine performance vaulted him from a 7th round prospect to a mid-round one. 9.96 RAS with elite speed, size, and explosion. Calvin Johnson traits but needs development as a receiver. Maybe a receiver the Vikings take a flyer on if he falls into Day Three.
Mohamed Ibrahim, Running Back, Minnesota (211)
The Vikings met with Ibrahim at the Combine and were also at the Gophers’ pro day. Ibrahim is another polarizing prospect, with some rating him as a mid-round prospect, others a 7th round/UDFA prospect. I suspect that the Vikings may have more interest in the other backs they’ve met with, but Ibrahim could be a UDFA option.
Anthony Bradford, Guard, LSU (278)
The Vikings had a private workout with Bradford, who’s a huge (6’4”, 332 lbs.) guard prospect who played with Ed Ingram at LSU. 9.8 RAS. His PFF grades don’t correspond with his high-end traits, however, suggesting he’s a development project. 65 overall PFF grade last season at LSU, including a 51.7 pass blocking grade, his first full season as a starter. Needs more development but has the traits. Late Day 3 projection.
Terell Smith, Cornerback, Minnesota (295)
The Vikings met with Smith at the U of MN pro day and have also scheduled him to visit for their Top-30 event. Smith had a breakout season for the Gophers in 2022 with an 80.9 overall PFF grade including a 78.9 coverage grade. His previous two seasons his PFF grade was just under 50. He appears to be something of a value pick right now, as his grading and RAS outpace his projected 7th round draft pick status. Smith could also be a candidate to transition to free safety.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Quarterback, UCLA (318)
Vikings met with Thompson-Robinson at the Combine. A UDFA option for a third QB for the off-season and potentially the practice squad.
What Can We Learn About the Vikings’ Intentions from these Meetings?
First, you can see the importance of athleticism in prospects the Vikings choose to meet with. Almost every prospect has an RAS of 8 or above, and many over 9. This isn’t by accident. Most Pro Bowl players have a RAS above 8. Not all do (Za’Darius Smith has an RAS of 3.73, Dalvin Cook 4.65), and not all high RAS players make the Pro Bowl (Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury both have a RAS over 9.9), but intuitively those with higher-end traits tend to have higher ceilings. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is an analytics guy, and doubtless keys in on athleticism as correlated player success.
Secondly, of the 23 known prospect meetings the Vikings have had (I’m sure there are other unreported ones), six have been with cornerbacks. That, combined with the fact that the Vikings have lost four cornerbacks that played about 90% of the combined CB snaps last season, suggests the Vikings may draft at least one- and probably two- cornerbacks in this draft. They appear to be looking for larger, press-man corners with the speed to stay connected to receivers down the field as well.
Secondly, the Vikings have also met with four running backs. While their current running back room doesn’t suggest this is a priority position to draft, I wouldn’t be surprised with a Day Three or UDFA pick to add to the depth chart- particularly if the Vikings part ways with Dalvin Cook.
At quarterback, the Vikings did some due diligence on the two QBs most likely to fall in the first round, in case they do fall close to #23, but I don’t sense they’re focused on drafting a quarterback other than a UDFA. Could be a smokescreen, but with the top four QBs expected to go within the top ten by several analysts, the Vikings would have to leverage a lot of draft capital this year and next to move up far enough this year. That seems highly unlikely.
The Vikings have also met with a couple defensive tackles (3-4 DEs), a couple edge rushers, and a couple centers and a guard. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two picks spent on linemen- one on each side of the ball.
That’s already five picks- all the Vikings have.
The Vikings have also met with a couple wide receivers, and have a need there, and a linebacker- which is also a need. They’ve also met with a tight-end, but that doesn’t appear to be a big need at this point- more of a luxury pick at this point.
But the fact that the Vikings have additional needs to fill, along with Kwesi’s draft last year, and that analytics support trading down, suggests the Vikings will once again trade down at some point during the draft, and maybe more than once, to gain additional draft picks. It may not be a lot, but I expect trades, and more trades down than up.
How many of the players named above will the Vikings end up drafting?
This poll is closed