Vikings 2023 Draft Class Ranked Near Bottom of NFL; Rest of NFC North is Top-5

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The end of the 2023 NFL season is nearly upon us. Well, if you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan then it’s been over for weeks already. But across the league, more and more eyes are shifting toward the offseason. But sometimes, make a better plan for the future, you have to look to the past.

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft – 1.0

Minnesota Vikings 2023 Draft Class of Disaster?

On Wednesday, ESPN did exactly that by looking back at last year’s rookie draft class and how each team’s new crop of players performed. Then, they ranked the productivity of each one. For the Vikings… well, it doesn’t look good. Let’s just say that.

ESPN ranked Kwesi’s 2023 draft near the bottom of the NFL (25th of 32), It gets worse, though. The other three teams in the NFC North — the Packers (3rd), Lions (4th), and Bears (5th) — all ranked in the top-5.

  • 1. Houston Texans
  • 3. Green Bay Packers
  • 4. Detroit Lions
  • 5. Chicago Bears
  • 18. Buffalo Bills
  • 25. Minnesota Vikings

But before we start screaming at the internet over Kwesi’s inability to draft quality NFL players, there’s some very important context needed. If 2023 draft capital was real currency, the Minnesota Vikings’ 6 total picks would’ve made them the poor house on the block.

For comparison, the Packers had 13 total draft picks, the Bears had 10 and the Lions had 8. Just as important, however, is where these picks were. The Vikings had only ONE draft pick in the first 100 selections last April and it was #23 overall.

The Packers had FOUR picks in the top-100, including #13 overall; Detroit had SIX top-100 picks, including #12 and #18 overall; Chicago hand FOUR top-100 picks, including #10 overall. So just using logic and reason alone, it would make sense that the Vikings rank lower on ESPN’s list than their three division rivals, which all picked before Minnesota and who all had picked at least FOUR total rookies before the Vikings picked their second.

2023 NFL Draft – NFC North

110. Darnell Wright (OT)12. Jahmyr Gibbs (RB)13. Lukas Van Ness (DE)23. Jordan Addison (WR)
118. Jack Campbell (LB)
253. Gervon Dexter Sr. (DT)34. Sam LaPorta (TE)42. Luke Musgrave (TE)
256. Tyrique Stevenson (CB)45. Brian Branch (S)50. Jayden Reed (WR)
364. Zacch Pickens (DT)68. Hendon Hooker (QB)78. Tucker Kraft (TE)
396. Brodric Martin (DT)102. Mekhi Blackmon (CB)
4115. Roschon Johnson (RB)116. Colby Wooden (DT)
4133. Tyler Scott (WR)134. Jay Ward (S)
5148. Noah Sewell (ILB)149. Sean Clifford (QB)141. Jaquelin Roy (DT)
5165. Terell Smith (CB)152. Colby Sorsdal (OT)159. Dontayvion Wicks (WR)164. Jaren Hall (QB)
6179. Karl Brooks (DE)
6207. Anders Carlson (K)
7218. Travis Bell (DT)219. Antoine Green (WR)232. Carrington Valentine (CB)222. DeWayne McBride (RB)
7235. Lew Nichols III (RB)
7242. Anthony Johnson Jr. (S)
7258. Kendall Williamson (S)256. Grant DuBose (WR)

Minnesota Vikings 2023 Draft Picks

Most probably don’t even remember the entire 2023 Vikings rookie draft class, but there are two names that stand out big time. Jordan Addison and undrafted rookie Ivan Pace Jr. had two of the better rookie seasons in this year’s class.

Addison was ranked, in a different piece by ESPN, as the 8th best rookie last season. In that same article, Pace Jr. was given the “who over performed in 2023” nod.

In the absence of Justin Jefferson, Addison had to fill a significant void and rose to the occasion. He fell just 89 yards short of a 1,000-yard season but he banked 10 total touchdowns. Had Kirk Cousins not been injured in week 8, who knows how good Addison could have been.

Related: Vikings Offense Rankings and Stats 2023 – Final

The undrafted rookie Ivan Pace Jr. stepped in for the injured Jordan Hicks, and quickly assumed the green-dot role of calling out plays and lining up the defense how defensive coordinator Brian Flores wants it. In just 11 games, he posted 102 tackles, 2.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. PFF loved him too.

3rd round draft pick, Mekhi Blackmon saw 40% of defensive snaps in 2023. Some reps were better than others but he could have a bright future. 5th round draft pick, Jaren Hall, was a big part of the Vikings quarterback storyline down the stretch.

Related: Vikings Defense Rankings and Stats 2023 – Final

He played in three games and started two. He looked really good on one drive vs the Atlanta Falcons, before a concussion knocked him out of the game. Hall returned two months later and started vs the Packers (wk 16), but it was a complete disaster and he was pulled, in favor of Nick Mullens, at halftime.

Jay Ward, a 4th round pick out of LSU, got some special teams run too. And when you step back and take a look at the Vikings draft class, as a whole, they actually got decent run out of the few players they drafted. Between the TJ Hockenson trade and some other maneuvering, the Vikings ended up with just six picks last April, one of the lowest totals of any team last April.

1/23Jordan AddisonWRUSC
3/102Mekhi BlackmonCBUSC
4/134Jay WardSLSU
5/141Jaquelin RoyDTLSU
5/164Jaren HallQBBYU
7/222DeWayne McBrideRBUAB

There are plenty of things to criticize Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for, but if you like the TJ Hockenson trade, then it’s difficult to be that upset about last season’s draft class. He just didn’t have enough currency and you can’t hit on every single pick.

2024 Minnesota Vikings Draft Outlook

The Minnesota Vikings hold nine picks in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, scheduled to take place in Detroit from April 25-27, 2024.

  • 1st round, 11th overall
  • 2nd round, 42nd overall
  • 4th round (from Detroit)
  • 4th round
  • 5th round (from Kansas City)
  • 5th round (from Cleveland)
  • 6th round (from Jacksonville, Oct. 31, 2023)
  • 7th round (from Las Vegas through New England)
  • 7th round

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