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DraftNerds – 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft

The Draft can help the Vikings keep up with the North Champ Lions and surging Packers - starting at quarterback. How will the Minnesota brass attack the Draft?

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Industry professionals and content creators will spend most of the dynasty off-season discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. We easily fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver. But a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can see ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to the Pro Football Network. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned or included in this exercise.

2023 Season Recap

The Vikes stumbled to a 7-10 finish, losing six of their last seven games, with starting quarterback Kirk Cousins missing the last nine games. Before his injury, the Vikings were still not winning games, starting 0-3. Despite some of the best statistical football of Cousins’ career, the Vikings started slow. They had won three straight before losing their signal caller.

The offense stumbled with Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall starting games. Justin Jefferson only played in ten games but still eclipsed 1,000 yards, and TJ Hockenson nearly surpassed 1,000 yards. Running backs Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Cam Akers were not the answer after moving on from Dalvin Cook.

The defense was solid, better against the run than the pass, and will need to address the secondary via the draft and free agency.

Long-time Viking Danielle Hunter and quarterback Kirk Cousins are critical unrestricted free agents. It’s tough to tell what team brass will do, but they have cap space. A more team-friendly deal for each should try to be reached. I’m not sure they extend Hunter, but Captain Kirk should be a priority, as he gives them the best chance to compete in 2024.

1.11 – Terion Arnold, CB, Alabama

There isn’t a top-ten-worthy cornerback in the class, but Arnold is a young first-round talent with immense upside. He’s got a well-rounded skillset – Arnold can cover, tackle, and play the run. He’s got smooth movement skills and fluid hips, allowing him to be sticky in coverage.

I’m not the most versed at scouting corners, but I love the detailed breakdown found here. Arnold is raw, only 21, and has to learn how to use physicality better, avoiding penalties. It’s not the sexiest pick at 1.11, but it fills a significant need for Minnesota.

2.42 JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

I’ve seen countless industry mocks with McCarthy at 11, but I don’t like him there. I did four mock simulators, and everyone had the Michigan QB available. I could see the Vikes making a move to trade up and get McCarthy earlier than this, as I am not sure he will fall to pick 42.

McCarthy is an athletic QB; he maneuvers around the pocket easily and has shown some ability to create when plays break down. He’s accurate, especially to the middle of the field, but doesn’t throw with a lot of velocity differential or touch. McCarthy wasn’t asked to do much in Michigan’s offense in regards to taking over games with his arm and throwing dozens of times every game.

It’s a good fit, and the Vikings would be wise to bring back Cousins, if only for a year or two, to let McCarthy learn the pro game. At a second-round price tag, that could be a likely scenario. At pick 11, the pressure is to start the former Wolverine sooner.

4.108 Jaden Hicks, S, Washington St.

Hicks is an excellent value in the fourth round and would likely find playing time from Week 1. He’s a versatile safety with range and tough in run defense. Hicks has a nose for the football and loves to make the big hit. His range helps in pass defense, and he moves well, fluidly, and explosively. At times, Hicks can be a bit overeager, and he doesn’t have long speed, but he fills a need for the Vikings.

4.129 Ray Davis, RB, Kentucky

It’s tough not to want to give Davis to every team I mock draft for; he’s one of my favorite prospects in the class. Minnesota could use a back to push and eventually usurp Alexander Mattison, and Davis could do that early in his career.

At 5’8″ and 220 pounds, he’s powerfully built and runs low to the ground. Davis has contact balance and power when he runs, but he also has an above-average change of direction and vision. He’s an adept pass-catching option, will run routes, and has reliable hands. He’s not the most explosive back in space and sometimes doesn’t make defenders miss like you hope he would. There’s much to love, and Davis is built for a three-down role.

5.155 Curtis Jacobs, LB, Penn State

Jacobs could develop into a strong linebacker in the NFL, and once he had immense promise, many hoped he would be the next great Nittany Lion LB. His strength is in coverage; he’s strong in the zone with good discipline and anticipation of what the offense will do. Unfortunately, Jacobs is a bit of a liability in run defense, diagnosing slowly and not anticipating quickly enough. He got some athletic chops and could still find time as a passing-down linebacker.

5.165 Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson

A former five-star recruit, Thomas also came into college with immense potential and expectations. He’s got a quick first step and a good motor, and he tackles with ferocity. But there hasn’t been much as far bend, and he gets stuck in traffic too often. Injuries have taken their toll and limited what he did at Clemson. There’s still potential, and if the Vikings can unlock it, Thomas could be a massive steal here.

6.178 Jay Stanley, S, Southern Miss

The Vikings double up and grab another safety; Stanley is another versatile safety, and he should be able to rotate in for the secondary early in his career. He’s a bit leaner at 6’2″ and 215 pounds, but Stanley has excellent range and play-making ability. I could see a path to him being a starter down the road.

7. 227 Cody Schrader, RB, Missouri

Another double-up positional pick, Schrader, will give the team some depth and a back with a different skill set. Massively productive in the SEC, he’s more of a straight-line back with some power and ability to break tackles. Schrader sees the line well as holes develop, but he doesn’t have much wiggle or creativity.

Draft Recap

This mock addressed their biggest needs, and McCarthy is becoming the consensus pick for the Vikings in the first round. I don’t love the value, but I could see them going that route. If they don’t take him early and another team jumps on McCarthy, I see the Vikings taking a QB at some point.

Davis and Schrader give them a good combination at running back with skillsets that complement each other. Three pieces for the secondary help immensely, and grabbing an EDGE and LB will help fill some potential losses in free agency. The defense has been long in the tooth for a few years, and an infusion of youth will be paramount.

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