The 2023 NFL Draft is just under 2 weeks away, and with that, the speculation of whom the Minnesota Vikings will take at 23 is beginning to unfold. I looked at some of the mock drafts from NFL.com to see what some of the “experts” had to say about the Vikings' selection at 23.
Charles Davis has the Minnesota Vikings taking Calijah Kancey, a defensive tackle from the University of Pittsburgh. Davis says he sees similarities between the Pitt prospect and former Vikings Hall of Famer, John Randle. That’s some pretty high praise for a young defensive tackle, but if placed into the middle of the Vikings' defensive line, he will have plenty of opportunity to make that his starting spot from day one.
Bucky Brooks believes the Vikings will target the other side of the ball with his pick at 23 for your Vikings. He has the team taking Zay Flowers, the wide receiver from Boston College. Personally, this is the only receiver I would want to take with this pick to pair with Justin Jefferson. Zay has an uncanny ability to run circles around defenders, before and after the catch, and would help ease some of the burdens of the double teams against Jefferson by beating his one-on-one matchups against opposing teams CB2.
Next we’ll take a look at who Rhett Lewis has the Vikings taking at number 23 in this year's draft. Lewis believes the Vikings will take Quentin Johnston, the wide receiver from TCU. Johnston is a big-body receiver, coming in at 6 foot 3 inches and weighing in at 216 pounds at this year's combine. Johnston had 60 receptions with 1,069 yards and 6 touchdowns in 13 games last season with TCU. The big-bodied receiver has deceptive speed for his size, and when you turn on his film you can see the defenses are usually caught off guard and will succumb to his speed down field.
Daniel Jerimiah has the Vikings taking Hendon Hooker, the quarterback from the University of Tennessee. This is an intriguing pick. The 25-year-old senior quarterback is coming off a stellar year at Tennessee with 27 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions with a 175.5 QB rating. He also led his team to a 9-2 record but suffered a season-ending knee injury. He is since been about 4 months removed from knee surgery and went through medical testing during the 2023 NFL combine where reports suggest the QB will be ready to go by the 2023 season opener. If the Vikings intend to draft Hooker, the thought would be to have him sit his first year behind veteran QB Kirk Cousins to help develop him while Kirk plays out his final contract year in Minnesota.
Lastly, we look at who Lance Zierlein has the purple and gold taking in the 2023 NFL Draft. Zierlein seems to have a similar opinion to most Vikings fans as he visualizes the team trading back to pick 27 with the Buffalo Bills to garner some more picks and eventually take linebacker Drew Sanders from the University of Arkansas. Sanders was formerly a part of the 2021 College Football Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, before transferring to Arkansas where he would come to dominate on defense. In 2022 with the Razorbacks, Sanders had 103 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, and forced 3 fumbles, recovered 1, and had 1 interception with five passes defended. This would be a good fit for Minnesota after relieving veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks early this off-season. Drew Sanders would have a chance to compete for an MLB spot from day one.
As you can see, even the experts are indecisive about who the Vikings will be picking in this year's draft. From defensive tackles to quarterbacks and everything in between, this Vikings team has quite a few spots to fill on a roster that the front office believes can still compete for a division title. But with five of the top NFL experts all going with different players for the Vikings in their mock drafts, it is still very much in the air as to who will become the next member of the Minnesota Vikings. If you were Kwesi and Co, who would you be taking at 23 to ensure that the team will be competitive as we begin to rebuild around younger players?