Minnesota Vikings fans are counting down the days until the 2022 NFL Draft. With fictional drafts galore, a large majority of the fan community is operating on the assumption that new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will select a cornerback with the 12th overall pick. And with Patrick Peterson entering his 32-year-old season, building a bridge around the corner makes sense. Recent speculation has even begun to shift to Minnesota leaning into the rebuilding part of “competitive rebuilding” by trading in the first round to rack up draft picks for next year’s draft.
But instead of sticking to the consensus by turning the corner with their first-round pick, what if the Vikings were looking to build the succession plan for a soon-to-be 32-year-old comrade on the attacking side of the ball? Similar to Peterson, Adam Thielen is undoubtedly set to play a vital leadership role for this team in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season with the Vikings.
And with O’Connell’s coaching experience in Washington and Los Angeles leaning heavily on 11 staff (one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers), now might be the time to the Vikings to find the long term of Justin Jefferson. outside sidekick.
Let’s not forget that O’Connell’s Los Angeles Rams decided to take their offense to a new level by adding a marquee third receiver by the name of Odell Beckham Jr. midway through last season – although they already have perennial 1,000-yard receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in the fold. Granted, Woods unfortunately tore his ACL less than 24 hours after Beckham signed with the Rams, forcing the former New York Giants and Cleveland Browns wide receiver to play a much bigger role. Without Beckham’s signature, it’s hard to imagine the Rams winning the Super Bowl.
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s move on to this three-round simulation draft – if the Vikings decide to prioritize the attacking side of the ball in the first two days.
Round 1 – 12th overall
Jameson Williams – wide receiver, Alabama
Before suffering an ACL injury in January’s national championship game, Williams was considered arguably the best wide receiver in the 2022 class. After spending his freshman and sophomore seasons at Ohio State, he blew the roof of college football last year with the Crimson Tide. Possessing revolutionary speed, Williams consistently generated explosive plays. From hitting fast lanes home to beating teams vertically, he couldn’t be stopped.
And for a fan base that still has fond memories of one particular receiver who raised “his hand” the moment he knew his defender was beaten deep, it wouldn’t take much convincing for Skoldiers to rise to edge with this uniquely talented receiver in purple. .
But before you categorize Williams as “just a speed receiver,” take a look at his technical route abilities beating corners with double moves.
Coming out of the ACL, the Vikings theoretically wouldn’t need to have a high emergency to speed up Williams’ rehabilitation. With Jefferson, Thielen and KJ Osborn already in the receiver room this season, the Vikings would have the luxury of making sure Williams is fully recovered from his knee injury before dropping him into O’Connell’s offense.
Round 2 – 46th overall
Roger McCreary – cornerback, Auburn
The Vikings are able to approach the cornerback position with their Day 2 top pick in this particular simulation thanks to Pro Football Focus’ Draft Simulator. And according to PFF, McCreary led all cornerbacks in college football with 20 forced misses – while playing in the best conference in America.
At 5’11”, there are justifiable concerns about McCreary’s ability to effectively hold up on the outside against the NFL’s best receivers. And with a wingspan of 28 7/8″, McCreary shares the same red flags than Washington’s Trent McDuffie But given McCreary’s cut price in the second round, size issues become a little less daunting.
The Vikings can afford to develop McCreary during his rookie season under Peterson’s tutelage. And with Cameron Dantzler providing the secondary with ample length at 6’2″, Ed Donatell and Mike Pettine could work McCreary on the outside if needed and explore McCreary’s abilities in the slot with Chandon Sullivan in ten-packs. under during the first year.
Round 3 – 77th overall
Dylan Parham – guard/center, Memphis
With their final Day 2 pick, the Vikings meet their most immediate need on the entire roster. Although Chris Reed and Jesse Davis are expected to make improvements up front with their veteran presence, Parham would bolster the interior offensive line and provide additional depth as a developmental piece.
Since 2020, Parham has allowed just one sack and 14 carries on 1,047 pass-blocking snaps for the Tigers. Like Reed and Davis, Parham brings versatility up front, having played right tackle and both guard positions for the past three years at Memphis. However, at 6’3″ and 311 pounds, it’s hard to imagine Parham playing tackle on Sunday. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that he has away experience, should the Vikings find themselves in a tight spot.
In fact, Parham projects himself as a possible candidate for the center at the top level. And with Garrett Bradbury likely entering his final season with the Vikings on his rookie contract, Parham could potentially become Minnesota’s starting center in 2023 while serving as an immediate backup this season.
So there you have it, Skoldiers. With the new regime devoting the vast majority of its free agent resources to the defensive side of the ball, don’t be surprised if Adofo-Mensah rewards his new head coach with some much-needed reinforcements for the offense. And in positions of need, Williams and Parham could make quite a substantial impact as rookies while proving to be essential long-term pieces.
Former general manager Rick Spielman had a propensity to succumb to outside noise about where he was supposed to draft in the first round. And had he stayed on as general manager, it would likely have meant the Vikings would end up with their first-choice – following a predictable first-round trade.
But with a new sheriff in town, all eyes will be on Adofo-Mensah as he orchestrates his first draft as NFL general manager.