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Experts Offer Takes on Vikings Options at No. 11

The answer could change multiple times between now and April 25, but Vikings Entertainment Network posed the question to multiple experts last week at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

What should the Vikings do at pick No. 11?

The answers ranged from selecting specific players to the likelihood of focusing on a position group/side of the football.

The final answer will be shaped by the coming weeks, depending on what happens in free agency, as well as remaining assessment opportunities like pro days at colleges and conversations held during top 30 visits.

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson's initial reaction may have summed it up the best.

"Oh, that is not super easy," Wilson said, "but let's see here. I'm going to go quarterback, and I'm going to say J.J. McCarthy happens to be sitting there at pick 11, and they go quarterback."

Other experts thinking QB

Wilson wasn't the only NFL expert who was thinking QB, even though it remains to be seen what happens with Kirk Cousins, who is scheduled to become a free agent on March 13. The Vikings could re-sign the veteran between now and then, or he might hit free agency and sign with a different team for the second time in his career.

Charles Davis, an analyst with NFL Media and CBS, even used the common draft language structure: "With the No. 11 pick, the Minnesota Vikings select quarterback J.J. McCarthy, University of Michigan."

"The uncertainty about Kirk Cousins coming back, I would love to see Kirk Cousins come back, frankly, but with the uncertainty, if he's not there, you start over with a brand new quarterback," Davis added. "A lot of guys played last year, the Vikings looking to solidify that position, J.J. McCarthy from Michigan, nothing but upside in his future."

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler also leaned quarterback "if the right guy is there."

"If they can either swing a trade up, it just seems like it's a great class," Fowler said. "Some people are high on Michigan's J.J. McCarthy. Is that a stretch at 11 or not? Maybe, but if the Vikings love a player like that, why not go big? If you hit it and have the quarterback of the future, nobody is going to complain about it or remember that you gave up a lot to move up in the draft or took a quarterback that people considered too high. Now, that's only if you have a high grade on him and think of him as a first-round pick.

"Maybe you can get up to get a Jayden Daniels or one of the top three guys, but I still think quarterback would be on the radar, and I think pass rusher for sure," Fowler added. "There are enough of them in this draft where you can get a good one in the first couple of rounds."

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport said the "most interesting question" for the Vikings is, "Do they take a quarterback?"

Rapoport noted the Vikings meeting with multiple top prospects at the position, including a few that have been projected as being picked earlier than No. 11.

"They're going to do the full quarterback evaluation. They are within striking distance if they're a team that decides to trade up, they could be in the mix for a top-three quarterback or a J.J. McCarthy or whatever they like," Rapoport said. "To me, that's the most intriguing option. If it's not a quarterback, then to me, they could go so many different places, right? They could go anywhere, best player available, you could get a really good offensive lineman, a top guard, you don't necessarily need a tackle, but you could go a lot of different places. You're in such a good spot, you could trade back and get a lot more resources. A really good spot to be. You never want to lose enough games to do it, but it ended up happening because of the quarterback injury."

Sam Monson with Pro Football Focus described the dynamics at quarterback before opting for a non-specified addition to the defense.

"The 11th spot is an interesting position in this draft. I think ultimately they are probably going to be out of the quarterback market at that point. It could be you've got QB4 still there, and if you love QB4, say J.J. McCarthy from Michigan, I think that's absolutely a live option, but otherwise, I think it's a great spot in the draft, in terms of other positions," Monson said. "You're going to have tackles available, receivers available. You're going to have defensive players available, and ultimately, I think that's where the Vikings end up landing.

"That defense under Brian Flores last year did an incredible job, but it's talent-depleted," Monson said. "They need an injection of talent basically anywhere in that group. D-line, cornerbacks, they're going to be able to take one of the top players off the board there."

Sumer Sports' Eric Eager pointed out the Vikings last drafted a QB at 11th overall in 1999.

"If the Vikings don't trade up for a quarterback, I think they'll stay pat at 11 and take J.J. McCarthy. I think he has a lot of the traits that people want," Eager said. "He's obviously got the winning pedigree from Michigan, but also it's been a long time since the Vikings have taken a quarterback that high. In fact, it's been since 1999 that the Vikings took a quarterback at 11 with Daunte Culpepper. I think at some point you have to take a quarterback with the surplus value there."

Some experts project defensive help

Other experts believe the Vikings could turn their attention to helping the defensive side of the ball, a group that also could be impacted by free agency — depending on what happens with Danielle Hunter.

Pro Football Network's Adam Caplan proposed either edge rusher or cornerback.

NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah expanded on options at edge rusher.

"I think I look at the edge position, and really three names for consideration when you think about Dallas Turner at Alabama, Jared Verse from Florida State and Laiatu Latu from UCLA," Jeremiah said. "I think those three guys — hopefully all three of them are there for the Vikings and they have their choice, but any of the three would be a great fit and really plug-and-play guys for a defense that needs a little more juice on the edge."

ESPN's Jordan Reid forecasted Turner but NFL Media's Lance Zierlein explained elements of Verse's game.

"So at No. 11 overall, the Vikings are going to select Dallas Turner, the edge rusher out of Alabama," Reid said. "Just because you talk about the combination of explosive traits and the production and then the upside. Of course, the Vikings need help off the edge. He has everything that they look for at the position."

Zierlein referred to Verse as a "powerhouse" who is "explosive off the snap."

"He can really rock offensive tackles from a run-stuffing standpoint, and he is a talented pass rusher, as well — has the power, I think, and that's one of the things that stands out to me," Zierlein said. "He can take his skill level, blend it with power and the guy can go get the quarterback."

NBC Sports' Chris Simms weighed the possibility of cornerback and edge rusher.

"If you ask me the position groups I see the Vikings going after, cornerback is one," Simms said. "You've got to be able to play some man-to-man on snaps in the NFL right now. The offenses and quarterbacks are too good. They'll pick apart zone all game long. I don't care how creative Brian Flores is. You need some of that, right?

"The other thing I think is an obvious one, I think you guys know, is pass rusher," added Simms, a former NFL QB. "There's got to be a pass rusher. We'll see what happens with Danielle Hunter. I know he's a free agent, whatever, all that, but that will be another position I certainly think the Vikings need to upgrade there at that pass-rushing position."