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Vikings Mock Draft Roundup, 1.0: Cam Smith, Joey Porter Jr. Among Options at CB

Will the Vikings take a corner in the first round? A wide receiver? Or perhaps even a quarterback?
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With the 2023 NFL Draft just over three months away, it's time to start getting acquainted with the players the Vikings could consider selecting in the first round. As Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell look to improve the roster in year two of their leadership, their top selection at No. 23 overall is a hugely important piece of that puzzle.

First-round draft picks are always an important part of the roster-building process, but that feels extra true this year. For one, the Vikings don't have a second-round pick and currently have just five total selections in April's draft. Furthermore, Minnesota's salary cap situation adds to the pressure of hitting on this pick. The Vikings have an expensive quarterback, several other high-priced veterans, and an extension-eligible superstar in Justin Jefferson. They could really use an impact player on a rookie contract.

Given the state of the Vikings' cornerback room — all three starters are hitting free agency and the two guys they drafted last year couldn't stay healthy — that's likely going to be the position you'll see the most of in mock drafts over the next few months. But there are quite a few possibilities for which direction Adofo-Mensah goes in round one, which will obviously be impacted by what happens with cuts, trades, free agency, and the rest of the first phase of the offseason. The defense could really use talent at any position. Another wide receiver to pair with Jefferson is an option. And there's always the looming possibility that the Vikings could take a first-round quarterback and let them develop behind Kirk Cousins for a year.

It's early in draft season, but let's dive into our first mock draft roundup of the year to get a sense of some names to keep an eye on moving forward. It's early, so some of these players will end up as top-15 picks and others will end up going on day two, but this is a good place to start.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic (Jan. 17) — Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Between now and the draft, I’m sure we will hear plenty of quarterback talk surrounding the Vikings. But they also need help on defense, obviously, including in the secondary. A cover-and-clobber corner, Deonte Banks has rangy speed and ball skills. Several NFL teams have second-round grades on the Maryland corner, but others believe he can crack the first round.

Bucky Brooks, (Jan. 23) — Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

After parting ways with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell last week, the Vikings need to make some upgrades on that side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. 

Daniel Jeremiah, (Jan. 20) — Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami

Stevenson has some flaws, but he’s big (6-0, 214), fast and tough. He would be a significant addition to a porous Vikings secondary. 

Jordan Reid, ESPN (Jan. 4) — Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah showed in his first draft in Minnesota that he values initial quickness, and after the Vikings struggled mightily in pass defense this season (7.8 yards allowed per attempt, 31st in the NFL), they will be seeking defensive backs who show good burst and can make plays on the ball. Smith checks those boxes and has experience in the slot and on the outside. He has four picks and 17 pass breakups over the past two seasons, too. Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan are on expiring deals, and Cameron Dantzler Sr. will be entering the final year of his contract in 2023, so cornerback depth will be a spot to watch.

Mike Renner, PFF (Jan. 9) — Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is tied to Kirk Cousins for only one more season, and the Vikings' roster is too good to where they won’t be getting the pick of the litter in a draft anytime soon. That could mean taking advantage of a deep quarterback class to start a year early on developing Cousins’ successor. McKee is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the draft class but was put in a lot of un-winnable situations on tape at Stanford.

Josh Edwards, CBS Sports (Jan. 19) — Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Adam Thielen has had 65-plus receptions in six of the past seven seasons, but he will turn 33 years old prior to the start of next season. Head coach Kevin O'Connell was accustomed to having multiple options at wide receiver in Los Angeles so they add a reliable third outlet.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports (Jan. 18) — Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson

Murphy has an NFL body and stars against the run. He can learn the intricacies of rushing the passer from Za'Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter early in his NFL career.

James Fragoza, Pro Football Network (Jan. 21) — Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

The Vikings practically lived in Cover 6 this year, rarely calling man or “middle field closed” looks. But it’s not all former DC Ed Donatell’s fault — he didn’t have the corners to run a variety of coverages. Joey Porter Jr. is the size/speed/length athlete Minnesota needs on the outside to fundamentally change their defensive philosophy.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News (Jan. 24) — Joey Porter Jr, CB, Penn State

The Vikings need to give Cam Dantzler better help on the back end with Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan heading into free agency. They could use some of Porter's size, speed and physicality to make more plays on the ball in coverage.

Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network (Jan. 17) — Cody Mauch, IOL, NDSU

Disappointing finish aside, the Vikings showed promise in Year 1 under Kevin O’Connell. But if they’re going to ride out the rest of the way with Kirk Cousins at QB, the interior offensive line has to be impenetrable. That means no settling at offensive guard. In Cody Mauch, they can get a mauler in the run game, with the strength to dominate in pass pro.

Keith Sanchez, The Draft Network (Jan. 18) — Jordan Addison, WR, USC

We all know that Justin Jefferson is one of the best receivers in the NFL, but in order for this Vikings offense to operate at their best, they need someone else who is a threat to take over a game. Jordan Addison is exactly that type of player. Addison has positional versatility with the ability to line up in the slot and on the outside and would be a nightmare to gameplan for with Jefferson. Addison falling to the Vikings in this NFL mock draft is the perfect match.

Fan Nation NFL Draft Bible Staff, (Jan. 23) — Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Brad Crawford, 247 Sports (Jan. 24) — B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

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