Mel Kiper Has Vikings Drafting Franchise QB at No. 11; Iowa’s Cooper DeJean at No. 23

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The NFL draft is just over a month away, and the Minnesota Vikings have a few glaring holes that need to be addressed. The biggest question for the Vikings remains whether or not they can land their new franchise quarterback.

But let’s not forget how many positions could still use fixing by way of the draft. For example, they’ve signed and re-signed multiple players on the 3-4 defensive line, but all of those additions, including newly acquired Jonah Williams (Rams) and Jerry Tillery (Raiders), along with the re-signing of Jonathan Bullard would look much better on the final 53-man roster as depth pieces, than they would as starters.

Yes, the linebacker group looks vastly improved already, with the additions of Blake Cashman and Andrew Van Ginkel, that will surely make some mid-round decisions in the draft much easier. But they could still use a lot of help on the edge and in the middle with that group of four, too.

The Minnesota Vikings’ biggest area of immediate need on defense, as of March 19, is probably at cornerback, given that room still looks way too much like the one last season that ranked 24th in the league in pass yards allowed per game.

Mel Kiper has Minnesota Vikings staying patient for JJ McCarthy

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Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

And that’s where iconic NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft (3.0) comes into play. Kiper isn’t sold on this idea that the Vikings have preordained plans to trade their two 1st-round picks to move up into the top-10 next month.

Related: Vikings Believe Sam Darnold Has Fixed Mechanical Issues and They Brought Proof

Instead, he has them standing pat at No. 11, where they wait patiently for JJ McCarthy (a QB they’ve scheduled a private workout with next week) to fall to them… something many draft gurus do not believe will be an option. While it seems more and more unlikely that McCarthy is still available past the top ten, Kiper warns of a scenario where the Vikings are unable to find a partner willing to tango in any sort of major trade up.

Remember, it takes two sides to make a trade. Would the Giants want to risk missing out on one of the top receivers? Would the Titans want to risk missing out on their preferred tackle? Would the Falcons or Bears want to risk not getting the edge rusher they like? There’s not an easy match, unless Minnesota is willing to give up a lot of future picks, which is certainly possible.

[McCarthy] has intriguing physical traits and can make every throw. Either way, if Minnesota really wants to try to move up in Round 1 for a quarterback, I could see it waiting until draft day to see how the board shakes out.

Mel Kiper – Mock Draft 3.0 (ESPN+)

Fortunately for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell, if the Vikings don’t have enough capital to move up… then it’s extremely unlikely other QB-hungry teams will have a move-up package that is any more enticing to offer rivals who hold the spots they covet (like the Cardinals and Chargers).

Related: Local NFL Insider Pretty Convinced Vikings Want Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, Not JJ McCarthy

McCarthy is coming off of a national championship season where he threw for nearly 3000 yards and 22 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions on a 72% completion rate. He’s currently ranked as the No. 21 overall prospect on Kiper’s big board, but it’s expected that teams will take him in the top-5, if they have to.

With the No. 23 overall pick, Vikings select… Cooper DeJean – Iowa (?)

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Photo: USA Today Sports Credit: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

If Mel’s latest prediction were to end up correct, it would mean the Vikings get their QB of the future AND retain their newly acquired No. 23 overall pick to improve another area of the defense. But Kiper isn’t satisfied with just improving Minnesota’s defense with their second 1st round pick, he wants to help their special teams too… by adding top cornerback Cooper DeJean from Iowa.

If [the Vikings] are keeping this selection, they have to address a secondary that ranked 28th in passing yards allowed to receivers (3,019) last season. I like the front-seven additions of Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, but Minnesota hasn’t made moves at cornerback.

He’s a ball hawk — he had seven interceptions over his final 23 college games — with excellent technique. He also isn’t afraid of sticking his head in and making a tackle.

Mel Kiper – Mock Draft 3.0 (ESPN+)

DeJean, mostly know for his infamous “fair catch” signal, is one of the best corners in the class, and Kiper has him as the 4th corner to go, behind Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, Alabama’s Terrion Arnold, and Clemson’s Nate Wiggins.

Related: Cooper DeJean Invalid Fair Catch was Correct Call But Kirk Ferentz is Crying Anyway

DeJean would add an immediate boost to an underwhelming Vikings cornerback group that could be vastly improved with a high end talent that immediately drops in as a CB1 or CB2. The newly turned 21-year-old playmaker nabbed 7 interceptions in his last 23 games as a Hawkeye.

He posted 41 tackles over the first ten games of Iowa’s 2023 season, before suffering a leg injury that ended his college career; an injury in which he is still recovering from.

Along with the additions in free agency up front of Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard, Dejean would be great final addition to strong defensive offseason. DeJean was also one of the best returners in college football, returning 21 punts for 241 yards and one score last year.

Related: Tyreek Hill Weighs in on Cooper DeJean Invalid Fair Catch vs Minnesota

The Vikings have a lot of questions to answer in an offseason that is the most important so far in General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensahs tenure in Minnesota. While a trade up is still possible and seems to be the most likely scenario, being able to find their future QB and adding to the defense while also retaining any future draft capital would be a big win for this Vikings front office

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