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Just like that, the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone with the Vikings drafting six players.
View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2023 NFL Draft.
The size of the draft class is down from recent years, including an NFL-record 15 players back in 2020, and is the lowest number of picks by the Vikings since five players were selected in 2009 (Minnesota also drafted just five players in 2008 after the Jared Allen trade).
The number of selections was one more than picks the Vikings possessed at the start the draft. Other selections had been used in previous trades to acquire T.J. Hockenson, Ross Blacklock and Jalen Reagor.
Second-year General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah moved down twice during the draft, netting two picks this year on his first trade down and a fifth-rounder from Kansas City next year on his second trade down. Adding those selections gave him a bit more flexibility to move up once during the fourth round.
Congratulations to Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings personnel department, Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and his staff and to the following young men who are joining the team with a chance to fulfill long-held dreams.
Round 1, 23rd overall: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Round 3, 102nd overall: Mekhi Blackmon, CB, USC
Round 4, 134th overall: Jay Ward, DB, LSU
Round 5, 141st overall: Jaquelin Roy, DL, LSU
Round 5, 164th overall: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU
Round 7, 222nd overall: DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB
The draft is hyped more each year, sometimes creating a sense of guaranteed immediate gratification. It's a finish line for college but only the start line for becoming a professional football player. Growth and development continue over the course of a player's career.
Teams base decisions on what they've seen so far and who they think the players will become. There's a need to fill pressing needs (understandably a coach's headspace) while thinking about the roster for years down the road (likely the viewpoint of the personnel department, which has tabs on what the next draft is likely to have in it).
Ideally both of those interests can merge in collaborative effort.
Jordan Addison is an excellent player and by all accounts will be a terrific NFL player. But what is this franchise even doing?
The Vikings had, at best, a mediocre defense last year, and have shed some of their better defenders already in free agency and salary cuts. The offensive line has been an issue for many years. And it's well past time to find a quarterback to replace Kirk Cousins when his contract ends next year. So why are the Vikings picking a wide receiver in the first round, especially considering there is no second-round pick and only five picks total? There is also a cap issue preventing the signing of quality free agents.
Like I said, Addison will more than likely be a good player, but there are way too many other needs to fill. It used to bother me that in the Zimmer years, it was always defense, defense, defense. And now, when the defense frankly stinks, it's all offense, offense, offense.
Seems like the plan is to try to outscore opponents and win games 42-38, because we aren't stopping anyone.
I'm a frustrated longtime fan and former season ticket holder.
— Greg Robertson in Las Vegas
Well, the Vikes fooled everyone yet again, so instead of drafting a future QB to learn from Cousins, they draft a shifty but undersized WR. Don't understand why they didn't go after a CB. There were lots available. Well, the receivers room will be crowded for sure. It'll be tough for the other wideouts to get their share of attention like [K.J.] Osborn, [Jalen] Nailor, [Jalen] Reagor and Co.
I hope I'm wrong about Addison.
— Nicholas Balkou
Note: The above emails were sent before the draft resumed Friday. I am grouping to talk more about the receivers.
We're two drafts into the tenures of Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell, so we're still learning about their points of emphasis, but I'd say the selection of Addison is influenced by the desire to use a first-round pick on a player and position that can make a measurable, immediate difference.
It also potentially comes with a long-term roster depth bonus. Minnesota last week exercised its fifth-year option on Justin Jefferson, meaning the phenom will be under contract through the 2024 season. The team has expressed interest in having Jefferson for the long haul.
Osborn and Reagor are entering the final years of their current contracts, so they may or may not be back after 2023. Based on what we've seen so far, before the draft, I think most would expect Jefferson and Osborn to be the top receivers when two receivers are on the field. Addison and anyone else can challenge for reps, of course.
The Vikings used three receivers more than 70 percent of the time last season and targeted Adam Thielen 107 times, resulting in 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns. With Thielen a casualty of the salary cap, that's a big opportunity for the other receivers.
The Vikings also will be able use many more personnel groupings since they have a great fullback and some interesting combinations at tight end.
O'Connell and Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips can determine which grouping will be best to attack opponents or to maximize the team's chances for success in specific situations. O'Connell has a strong track record for getting the ball to receivers, and so does Cousins, whether it's with three receivers or not.
On Friday, I put together a story with several experts' takes on how they think Addison will help Jefferson and the rest of the offense. Please check it out if you haven't. The short version is the expectation that the Vikings will be able to make opponents pay if they continue to sell out against Jefferson.
Given some of the other perceived needs on defense that Greg and Nicholas point out, the Vikings had one pick in the first round and not much draft pick capital.
They listened to offers from other teams while on the clock — anyone have memories from last season's games as the draft clock ticked and ticked and ticked down? I did, but the room was calm, the scenario was one of many the Vikings prepared for, and Addison is a player Minnesota likes who may not have still been on the board had the Vikings moved down.
Minnesota is young at cornerback but has invested other recent picks at the position who have tremendous opportunities this year and brought in Byron Murphy, Jr., in free agency.
The additions during free agency, plus projections of returning players enabled Minnesota to use what Paul Charchian described as a "luxury pick" in the selection of Addison. I understand his construction, but I also think the Vikings are structured to yield an important impact out of Addison.
We went Trojans with our first two picks. What is the chance they consulted Jordan Addison before they selected Mekhi Blackmon in the third round? They probably faced each other in practice quite a bit.
— Gerald Goblirsch
As I mentioned in my takeaways from the draft, the Vikings have selected two players from the same school a few times in recent years, but there had been numerous Vikings picks within those drafts between the players who shared an alma mater.
Minnesota's absence in the second round maybe contributed to Addison and Blackmon being back-to-back selections. Blackmon described how excited he is for the reunion on Friday night, several hours after Addison was walking the halls of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
They overlapped just one season at USC, but they faced each other numerous times in practices and made each other better. It's possible that scouts could ask one player about the other during campus visits. It makes sense to cull information from close sources.
I wasn't part of any conversations the Vikings had when they welcomed Addison to Minnesota on Friday, but I think it would be more coincidental than anything because of the large gap between Addison's selection at No. 23 and Blackmon's at 102.
The Vikings then wound up using their next two picks on players from LSU. Minnesota had advanced intel on each, given that defensive backs coach Daronte Jones had been the defensive coordinator at LSU in 2021.
View photos of WR Jordan Addison's first day in Minnesota after being drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
I love the Jaren Hall pick. What do you think?
Why is he getting all the negative buzz? He hasn't taken an NFL snap yet. Do you think he will get the time of day to compete?
— Demarous Davis
Just finished watching Round 5. Do the Vikings have a plan for quarterback after this coming season? Hall is rated as an average backup. There doesn't seem to be any concern, which leads me to believe Cousins will be here longer than this coming year. First-round pick was good. After that, it was the usual couple of corners that never seem to work out. I really miss Rick Spielman.
— Gene in Amboy, Minnesota
As someone who has followed the Vikings since their inception, I was gratified with their performance last year but mystified how they even did it. As was everyone else, and no one in the league thought it was sustainable.
As fans, no one quite understands what the hell they are doing in the drafts. I sure hope this metrics thing pans out but .......
And needing a replacement for Cousins, passing on three potential franchise QBs like [Will] Levis, [Hendon] Hooker and [Jake] Haener is unconscionable. They'll never see that kind of opportunity present itself again.
Nice copy about Hall, all positive. I don't recall the entire evaluation being that positive actually, and you left out the fact the guy was injured every year and subject to concussions.
I don't see him as a QB prospect and will be surprised if he is anywhere near as good as Kellen Mond, who they dumped. I actually liked Mond (not at first) and felt he could eventually take over but then he wasn't KAM's guy was he?
— Greg Marciniak in Prentiss, Mississippi
I'm grouping these offerings from Demarous, Gene and Greg because of the variety they offer on Minnesota's selection of Hall.
First of all, I'd like to give a shoutout to Tyler, who asked in last week’s Mailbag if the Vikings would trade up to select Anthony Richardson or "wait it out and get Jaren Hall."
As you know, Richardson flew off the board to Indianapolis with the fourth overall pick. Had he stayed on the board, maybe Minnesota would have taken a run at him, even if the team didn't have as much draft capital as other teams.
The Vikings predicted how patient they could be before selecting Hall with their third pick of Saturday at No. 164 overall.
I'd encourage everyone to take the approach Demarous suggests of allowing players to prove themselves for what they can be at this level. That goes for Hall and every other player selected.
If you haven't watched his interview with Twin Cities media members yet, please take a look:
I personally thought Hall's charisma came through my screen during the call. Does that mean he'll have success as a backup or eventual starter? No, but it's a great starting point for that position that can elevate teammates and often needs to.
Another anecdote I'd like to relay was shared this weekend by Vikings Director of College Scouting Mike Sholiton.
"We gave Jaren a chance — we set up a play for him at the combine in the interview where we knew his receiver ran the wrong route," Sholiton said. "We were trying to give him a chance to say this player was wrong. All he was willing to say was, 'I have to make it right.'
So instead of throwing a teammate under the bus, Hall showed a great deal of security and humility, as well as loyalty. This also presented, Sholiton said, when he admitted what he hasn't learned yet.
View photos of BYU QB Jaren Hall who was selected No. 164 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
"We've had players in the past that lie through the pre-draft process, 'fake it until you make it,' " Sholiton said. "With our staff of experts, they have a radar for that. Jaren never tried to pull that off."
With Cousins entering the final year of his current contract, many projected the Vikings would use their first-round pick on Levis or Hooker. Both were on the board, but the Vikings opted for Addison.
Levis hung around until the second day of the draft when Tennessee traded up to draft him at 33 a year after selecting Malik Willis in the third round (86th overall). Like Cousins, Titans QB Ryan Tannehill is heading into the final year of his contract.
Hooker remained on the board until Detroit tabbed him with the 68th pick. It seemed like the Lions calculated how far down they could move and still nab the QB as a potential option if they don't stick with Jared Goff, who is under contract through 2024.
Haener went off the board to New Orleans at No. 127, one spot ahead of the Rams taking Stetson Bennett.
Just because Cousins is entering the final year of his contract does not mean that he and the team won't opt to do an extension eventually. But the Vikings didn't have as much urgency and didn't have to overreach.
Hall was the 12th of 14 quarterbacks selected in 2023, and Mond was the seventh of 10 back in 2021, but Hall's spot was almost 100 after Mond's at 66. That draft spot for Mond may have ballooned expectations beyond his readiness. He is by all accounts a great person, but O'Connell, a former QB drafted in the third round by New England in 2008, and Vikings coaches decided he wasn't going to be in Minnesota's long-term plans. That decision wasn't made on a whim, however. It was after in-depth evaluations of Mond.
I also think it's a little too early to judge Adofo-Mensah's draft classes. Let's at least see how last year's group progresses one to two more years. Several of those players are projected to have bigger roles this season.
Count me in the camp for being excited to see what new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores does with Minnesota's roster from the vets all the way down to the newbies.
As for the "positive" copy regarding Hall, we try to publish the initial news story as soon as possible after each pick is announced. We have moments to quickly introduce the player and what he has done so far as we prepare for an initial interview and go more in-depth with additional coverage during or after draft weekend.
Since the medical aspect was brought up — I'll never fault anyone for dealing with a concussion, by the way — Hall did miss some time with concussions in 2019. He did not play in 2020 because of a hip injury.
In 2021, he made 10 starts but missed some time with a rib injury. According to reports, Hall initially played through bruised ribs before they were cracked. There was also an ankle injury at the end of the year.
The Vikings put Hall through their medical evaluation and were completely OK with the results.
During his interview with Twin Cities media members, Hall was asked about his injury history and whether it affected his draft stock.
"After the combine, the injuries were all checked out and they were good to go from there, so I didn't expect it to have any effect," Hall said. "To your point, maybe that was a part of it, but right now I'm healthy and I've been healthy for quite some time, so I just think it was the right fit for whatever the reason to this point, and I'm just thankful that Minnesota found value in me and picked me when they did."
Later on, he was asked about his mobility and whether his dual threat would be part of his game in the NFL.
"You have to use that ability as much as you can without jeopardizing your health and your body," Hall said. "That's something that I've gotten better at throughout my career and will always be a part of who I am and what I do because I think that's when I'm at my best doing both. I think a lot of times athletic quarterbacks use it more because they're still learning and getting comfortable and that's just part of that process."
View photos from inside the Thomson Reuters Vikings Draft Room during the 2023 NFL Draft.
This is the second uninspiring draft in a row, and the team is in backward mode.
Even if Addison is a good addition, our porous defense and no future quarterback are more pressing areas, and neither were addressed.
We got nothing out of last year's draft, and if this year's is bad as well, we will at least have a high pick when we finish behind the Bears for last place.
With [Aaron] Rodgers gone, we had a chance to take the Packers place as the bully in the division, but that will now be the Lions.
It gets harder each year, after following the team since its inception, that I believe I will ever see a Super Bowl championship in my lifetime.
— Bryan Abrams
Again, I think it's much too early to judge the 2022 Vikings draft class or if "backward mode" would be my choice of descriptors. The projected difficulty of Minnesota's schedule means it could be quite tough to replicate or exceed 13 wins in 2023.
As for this year's draft, the team entered the draft with five picks and wasn't on the clock until No. 23 because it was a playoff team with a 13-4 record the previous season. Playoff teams don't have a first-round selection until 19 unless they have one from another squad that resulted from a previous trade.
Thus, drafts should probably be evaluated with how much a team obtained with the picks (and locations) it had.
The Vikings are in transition. Last year, it was leadership. This year it has been bidding farewell to multiple established veterans because of cap constraints.
I get the desire to boost a defense that didn't dictate enough to opponents last season, but that group is getting overhauled under Flores' guidance and through the addition of veteran free agents, as well as ascending young players.
Detroit's finish to the season was strong, and I appreciate Dan Campbell's swagger and leadership from afar. The Lions are likely to be a tough team to beat, but nothing about last year guarantees success this year. Same with Minnesota's team success not counting toward this season's goals.
Am I really the only one who listens to what Coach O'Connell and Kwesi Adolfo-Mensah say? They both stated in their joint interview leading up to the draft, they were not going to draft a quarterback. Coach specifically stated that he would personally study each quarterback prospect, in case one of them came available at a later time.
My question, why would they choose a franchise quarterback before they have a long-term contact with Justin Jefferson? Who the future quarterback will be is great leverage in negotiations. Why would they tie their hands behind their back?
— David B. in Rochester, Minnesota
I read the comments a couple of weeks ago about economizing with a drafted rookie QB's contract with interest. That made a great deal of sense to me.
What puzzled me was people's reactions to those comments, immediately jumping to the conclusion that the Vikes are going to draft a quarterback in the first round this year.
That doesn't make sense to me, and not only because Minnesota is committed to Kirk Cousins this year. Plus being open to the possibility of him re-signing afterward.
What I'm struggling with is, if it's so valuable to have four years to "economize" your team's salary structure with that structured rookie contact…why would you waste 25 percent of that opportunity period while Cousins' contract is still fully on the books?
Starting that timer in '24 — assuming Cousins doesn't re-sign — makes so much more sense to me.
Am I missing something?
I mean, aside from the possibility of acquiring Trey Lance instead of those two options.
— Jeff in Des Moines, Iowa
I think O'Connell loves studying quarterbacks every year for multiple reasons. Beyond the trip down Memory Lane, he knows there's such high value in having as complete a perspective on that year's group as possible and keeping those notes for when players reach the end of their first contracts or go on the trading block.
I think he also has a good lens for evaluating receivers and implementing them, so that should be fun.
David listened and Jeff read between the lines for what O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah said leading up to the draft.
It's probably best to never say never or paint your team into a corner. Other people may have misapplied or overran with some comments, which happens these days.
View photos WR Jordan Addison being selected as the Vikings 2023 first round draft pick in Kansas City.
As for his question, I think some would point out the benefits if a franchise quarterback could be landed on a rookie contract pay scale at some point during Jefferson's second contract.
The things I know about Jefferson are he loves football, he wants to be great at it, he wants to win, and he has stayed incredibly humble and hardworking during his rise. Those components came to fruition last season with personal and team successes.
Jeff brings up an interesting point.
As I previously mentioned, there's still a chance that Cousins' tenure with the Vikings extends beyond 2023.
The sentiment of having a starting quarterback on a first-contract pay scale makes sense because it allows dollars to be allocated else — many times they already have been. The quiet part is there are plenty of teams who have played with starting quarterbacks on first contracts, but not all have been with good teams/factors that enable young QBs to succeed.
What we do know is last year's coaches won with Cousins at the pay scale that is commensurate with other veteran starting quarterbacks. Other contracts for quarterbacks have increased.
If Cousins is not back in 2024, then it's probably best if the Vikings can use that money to build a team strong enough to offset any gap between what Cousins has provided and what the young player would be positioned to provide at that point in his career.
View portrait shots of Vikings WR Jordan Addison who was selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did a terrible job picking a WR in the first round.
Myself and thousands of Vikings fans are sick and tired of watching an incompetent QB, namely Kirk Cousins. We thought the organization brought in the new GM and coach to make a serious change in the offense that includes a more versatile quarterback. Cousins is a so-so QB, but we will NEVER get to the Super Bowl with him under center — the fans and the sporting news is aware of that fact. It's too bad our inept GM cannot see that.
— Paul Nichols
Let me clarify that I don't agree with Paul's use of "incompetent" and "so-so" to describe Cousins, nor the use of "inept" toward Adofo-Mensah. I do hear from plenty of fans who are ready to move on from Cousins for one reason or another.
When a team is limited to five draft picks on the way in (although you can say Hockenson is well ahead of where most second rounders this year should be), the GM must try to maximize impact with high picks and add talent and depth throughout in an efficient manner.
Go back a couple of months and Adofo-Mensah said at the combine that Cousins showed he can play at a level high enough for the Vikings to win. O'Connell agrees.
Any QB decision could have a baseline, 'Does using this first-round pick get the Vikings a better quarterback than Cousins?' If the answer to that question is no, then the greater responsibility is to make the decision that gives the team the best chance to improve its roster with an impactful player.
I feel like the people in Cousins' camp built permanent residences, and the people against him will never be enticed to set up a tent with a lake view. I remain intrigued by what a second year in the same system for Cousins will yield since we've not seen that here.
View photos of Vikings WR Jordan Addison posing for photos after he was drafted in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Was furious last year at the Lions trade, as moving back 20 picks in first round should have included a first this year.
Hoping we don't get fleeced again.
Skol from Chicago (lifelong Vikes fan who grew up in MN and worked at old Met Stadium)
— David Gottlieb
David's email took me back a year ago, and I think there might still be some smoldering ashes in my inbox for all the fire coming in about that trade.
Squeezing out a first-round pick this year from the Lions, who had an extra one from the Matthew Stafford trade, would have been nice for sure.
Instead, Minnesota received the No. 32, 34 and 66 overall picks in exchange for the 12th and 46th selections.
The 32 was used to pick Lewis Cine, the 34 was traded to Green Bay for picks 53 and 59, and the 66 landed Brian Asamoah II. Detroit selected receiver Jameson Williams at 12 and Josh Paschal at 46.
The 53rd pick was later traded to Indianapolis as part of a deal for Minnesota to go up and get cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., and the 59th was used to select Ed Ingram.
If the plan unfolds the ideal way, which is no guarantee, that's a projected starting safety, inside linebacker, cornerback and guard for several seasons to come. Cine and Booth had their first seasons upended by injuries, Asamoah learned a good bit and could be in line to start in place of the departed Eric Kendricks, and Ingram started all 17 games with some growing pains along the way.
Let's say the deal was moving down 20 spots plus a first this year but did not include any other picks to the Vikings or required more picks from Minnesota, and we're looking at some different roster scenarios for sure. This Mailbag edition probably looks a lot different, too.
I love some of the "what-ifs" involved in the NFL and all the dominoes that can fall in multiple directions with 32 teams involved in roster moves.
Side note, I bet David has some awesome stories from working at the Old Met.
Have you seen any evaluations about which teams/GMs draft quality over need?
— Craig in Boston
I'm not immediately aware and haven't had much free time lately, but would be highly interested if anyone is better aware than I am.
Beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, and I think goals for usage of a pick can change from round to round.
There are so many variables that can affect why teams think they are best using a particular pick.
I'd think there could be some parameters set where it's "since we have a high need at this position or these positions, we'll focus there, unless the value of a player on the board is X greater than remaining players."
Are we sticking with the 3-4 defense or are we going back to the 4-3? It seems to be a mystery. Keep up the great work, look forward to the Mailbag each week!
— Rod from Vancouver, Canada
Appreciate the readership from Canada. I don't want to venture past my skis on this, but indications are that the Vikings will have multiple looks. They have many returning players who were deployed in Ed Donatell's version of the 3-4 base last season, but there also were plenty of times when Minnesota had four down linemen.
After each of Minnesota's three defensive selections in this year's draft, the word versatility kept popping up.
"I would say [versatility is] a big part of what they do," Adofo-Mensah said when asked about Flores' system. "It's a big part of obviously what I've looked for in the past, but especially in his defense, he is so good at optimizing people's skill sets, and he will match personnel, he will match different schemes, and giving him weapons to do so is ultimately my job, and I'm happy to do so for him."
Vikings Assistant Director of Player Personnel Chisom Opara said versatility has been "one of the main messages" from Flores to Minnesota's personnel department.
"He is built on being multiple and the idea of having an aggressive scheme, the idea of having a scheme that can dictate to the offense," Opara said. "Part of that is having players that can play multiple roles, so you don't develop tendencies, so you don't have certain guys that specialize at doing certain things. The more versatile players you can add, the more you can be the one who is calling the shots a little bit and keeping the offense guessing as the game goes on."
Ideally, the Vikings defense will present mysteries weekly to opponents.
View photos of the 15 undrafted free agents the Vikings have agreed to terms with following the 2023 NFL Draft.
Reserve your tickets for Bud Grant Celebration
The free, public celebration of life service in honor of Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant is scheduled for noon (CT) on May 21 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The event is free, but digital tickets are required for entry. Reserving tickets — and making sure to use them if you claim them! — will help my colleagues on the event-planning side of things.
Send your own Letter to Bud
In tribute to Bud Grant and his legacy, and in continuing the "Letters to Bud" theme, we invite fans to mail in letters sharing the impact Coach Grant had on your Vikings fandom, your personal life, your childhood and so on.
Letters received may be published through Vikings content platforms in a future special edition of "Letters to Bud." We also will pass along the letters to Coach Grant's family.
If you would like to participate, please send letters to the below address.
Lindsey Young, Vikings Entertainment Network
Re: Letters to Bud
2600 Vikings Circle
Eagan, MN 55121
Here are the links to the previous content series in case you'd like some inspiration (chapter explanations are on the left, and the Adobe Spark features are on the right).