With the NFL Draft soon approaching, Minnesota Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been tasked to fill the holes that plagued Minnesota in their Wildcard round loss against the New York Giants. Here are five prospects that Adofo-Mensah can draft to help the Vikings compete for the Lombardi Trophy in 2023:
Siaki Ika – DL (Baylor)
Siaki Ika is a player that is steadily climbing the draft boards, and for good reason. With a height of 6 feet 4 inches and a weight of 358 pounds, he is an absolute behemoth—exactly the type of player you want on the defensive interior.
Ika is considered to be the third-best interior defensive lineman in this draft pool, and in a class that includes Bryan Breese and Jalen Carter, being third may get you the top pick in many other drafts.
This would be a fantastic choice with Tomlinsons’ contract voiding. When you consider that Brian Flores is probably going to blitz a lot as well, a line of Tonga, Harrison Phillips, and Ika would be devastating.
Ika has the skills to be a game-changing nose tackle, both in the run and pass games, as he has the explosiveness to reach the quarterback.
The Vikings should start by drafting in one of the draft’s most aggressive players to their defensive front if they want to boost their defensive intensity.
John Michael Schmitz – C (Minnesota)
Garrett Bradbury’s contract has expired, and it looks like he’s on the way out . If that’s the scenario, the Vikings must find a replacement who can contribute right away.
Given the urgent defensive needs, using their first-round pick on the center position wouldn’t be ideal. Yet, no possibility can be excluded at this time, and if this scenario actually occurs, John Michael Schmitz might be a candidate.
Schmitz is the top center recruit in this year’s class, and his performance at the 2023 Senior Bowl only helped to raise his status. It’s not a thrilling selection, and it doesn’t address Minnesota’s defensive problems, but if Bradbury leaves, he seems like the right way to go.
Tyrique Stevenson – CB (Miami)
Recently, it has been suggested that the Vikings could draft Tyrique Stevenson in the first round, but that may be a bit lavish. Nonetheless, the idea is now a little more plausible than it was a week or two ago due to his build and playing style, which would work well under Flores.
Standing at 6-feet tall and 215 pounds, he provides the size the Vikings desire on the edge. Stevenson has good athleticism for a man his stature, but it’s notable that he lacks some of the smoothness that some of the elite players in this class have displayed.
I can see Minnesota picking Stevenson if he falls to the 2nd round, not as a 1st round pick.
Cam Smith – CB (South Carolina)
While he has demonstrated the ability to be trustworthy in zone formations, he excels in man coverage. He is competitive no matter what is presented to him, and it is his strongest quality. On the line of scrimmage, Smith makes aggressive tackles and can detect screens and rushes to his area of the field. Additionally, he jumps routes effectively and moves quickly enough to compensate for mistakes.
Penalties, which are in Smith’s nature, will be the key area of concern early on. He can be too aggressive, but a player with the right features in place can be coached out of that. Smith seems to be the plausible choice among first-round cornerbacks with a bonus that he fits right in Flores defensive philosophy.
Trenton Simpson – LB (Clemson)
Almost all draft analysts consider Simpson to be this year’s top inside linebackers.
A world-class talent, he would be a perfect fit for Minnesota’s underperforming Linebacker corps.
At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, Simpson is a hefty player, but his sub 4.40 40-yard dash time turns him into a steamroller on the pitch and with Flores’ aggressive scheme, he may be a menace as a edge rusher as well.
Compared to Micah Parsons, Simpson is a hybrid defender who will be most effective when used on passing downs. He also profiles as a positionless defender who attacks opponents in coverage and zone blitz looks. He is a guy who can make an impact as a starter if utilized properly.
The more you see him, the more you realize what a phenomenal athlete he is and how dynamic he is.
I really hope the Vikings are able to pick him up, he would be the perfect start to our new defensive chapter.
Consider it, Kwesi.