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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Explores Vikings Big Board for the 2023 NFL Draft

While Minnesota won't officially be on the 2023 NFL Draft clock until 71 days from now, the time is ticking.

Minnesota currently has four overall selections in this year's draft (first, third, fourth and fifth rounds) but is projected to add a fifth through a compensatory pick.

The Vikings currently hold the 24th pick, but it will be the 23rd overall selection due to Miami having to forfeit its first-round pick this year and a third-rounder in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Dolphins engaged in "impermissible communications" with Tom Brady in 2019-20 while he was with New England and after the 2021 season while he was with the Buccaneers.

Alec Lewis of The Athletic broke down each of the Vikings current picks and provided a big board of who Minnesota could select in each round.

Kelee Ringo

In the first round, Lewis said defense — whether it's at cornerback, linebacker or edge rusher — was the most popular option for the Vikings.

Maryland's Deonte Banks, Georgia's Kelee Ringo and Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbes, Jr., are among Lewis' top projections for Minnesota at corner. He wrote:

"Banks, Ringo and Forbes are considered three of the premier cornerbacks in this year's draft. The position group may be strong enough for the Vikings to trade down and create additional picks. But if Minnesota chooses to make its selection at No. 23, any of the three would make sense. Ringo may be the most intriguing athlete of the three, but as The Athletic's Dane Brugler wrote this week, Ringo "struggles to anticipate, which will be a tough skill to improve against NFL-level receivers."

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2023 regular season schedule.

Lewis wrote Arkansas' Drew Sanders and Clemson's Trenton Simpson are two options at linebacker. He added Georgia's Nolan Smith, Georgia Tech's Keion White and LSU's BJ Ojulari could be potential selections if Minnesota chooses to bolster its pass rush.

"Smith's size and smarts align perfectly with pass-first, RPO-heavy NFL trends. White is also capable of covering pass catchers on the edge. Ojulari is the younger brother of Giants pass rusher Azeez Ojulari. BJ won't fit every scheme, according to Brugler, but "he has a vast bag of tricks, including a nasty 'ghost' move that he can pull off at full speed."

In the third round, Lewis noted the Vikings could look to the interior defensive line and select Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika. He wrote:

"This past season, Vikings Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips commented on the importance of the interior. He was talking about offensive line play and how guards, traditionally considered lower in the hierarchy than tackles, have a harder time against elite defenders on the interior because it's more difficult to help them out.

"Ika, who experienced a complex scheme at Baylor under Head Coach Dave Aranda. He's no Dexter Lawrence or Chris Jones, but his mobility could enhance the heart of the Vikings front. And if the Super Bowl teams taught us anything, it's the importance of strength in the middle."

Emmanuel Forbes, Jr.

Lewis added Minnesota could also turn to the offense with the selection, particularly the backfield. He wrote:

"There are also interesting conversations to be had here about potentially picking a running back. The Vikings may make a decision in the next month about Dalvin Cook, who will be in the final year of his contract with a hefty cap number. If the Vikings choose to move on, they could seek an addition or two to their backfield even with Ty Chandler in the fold and free-agent candidates like Alexander Mattison.

"Tyjae Spears exited the Senior Bowl with as much buzz as any other prospect and will be a dynamic addition to any team. The Vikings spent a fifth-round pick last spring on Chandler, so they might be reluctant to use another high pick on a running back. But it is a thought to consider."

In the fourth round, Lewis' big board included a pair of quarterbacks — Tennessee's Hendon Hooker and Fresno State's Jake Haener.

"If the Vikings choose not to extend Kirk Cousins further, they'll need to create a succession plan, be it in the draft or through free agency. Two of the premier signal callers — beyond the group of expected first-round options that includes Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Will Levis — are Hooker and Haener. Hooker is still recovering from a torn ACL, but his performance last season at Tennessee caught the attention of many evaluators. Haener, on the other hand, is lesser known but was named the MVP of the Senior Bowl."

The next round, Lewis noted Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn, Sacramento State cornerback/safety/linebacker Marte Mapu, Ole Miss wide receiver Jonathan Mingo and Iowa cornerback Riley Moss could be solid late-round picks. He wrote:

"Though short in stature, Vaughn caught more passes out of the backfield than any other college running back this past season. The comparisons to Darren Sproles are too easy to make (size, Kansas State, etc.). His explosiveness, though, seems rare.

"Mapu is capable of playing multiple defensive positions and might be a perfect fit for a [Brian] Flores defense that may often use six defensive backs. Mingo showed size and route-running potential at the Senior Bowl. Moss does not have the longest wingspan, but his speed and smarts may fit better than some are projecting."

Lewis' options for the Vikings projected compensatory pick include TCU cornerback Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim and Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.

End-of-season power rankings

In the blink of an eye, the 2022 NFL season has come to an end.

Before we start thinking about the 2023 season, though, there are a few final items from 2022 that must be unveiled.

Dan Hanzus of, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, The Monday Morning Quarterback staff through Sports Illustrated and Dalton Miller of Pro Football Network all provided their end-of-season power rankings for all 32 teams.

Hanzus ranked the Vikings 10th on his list. He wrote:

"The Vikings won 13 games in 2022, but their one-and-done cameo in the postseason hammered home the reality that this remains a team not quite on par with the NFC's big boys. Minnesota can start closing the gap by getting younger: Six starters in 2022 will be 31 or older by opening day next September. One of those veterans is Kirk Cousins, who turns 35 in August and could be entering his last season as Minnesota's unquestioned QB1. Adding a young playmaker to the offense would be helpful, though the team has obvious needs on defense in both the front and back end."

Prisco placed Minnesota one spot lower at No. 11. He wrote:

"[The Vikings] needed to make a change at defensive coordinator, which they did. New coordinator Brian Flores will bring a much more aggressive approach."

The MMQB staff also put the Vikings 11th on their list.

"The Vikings have been one of the most confusing and polarizing teams to rank all year, with their 13–4 record and negative point differential. In the end, a playoff loss to the Giants showed their true colors."

Miller ranked Minnesota the lowest of the four lists at No. 15. He wrote:

"The Minnesota Vikings were an enigma in 2022. They lived on one-score victories all season, so much so that the 13-win Vikings had a negative point differential. It was truly one of the most incredible seasons of all time.

"Minnesota's offense is in good shape moving forward, but they need to revamp their secondary if they want to compete in the NFC next season. They aren't too far away defensively, but it's not easy to turn over a secondary in the course of one offseason."