Early Vikings 2023 mock draft after Week 1 of the college football season

(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) Joe Tippmann
(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) Joe Tippmann /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Josh Downs /

Second-Round Pick

Josh Downs – WR (North Carolina)

UNC’s Josh Downs entered the season as a potential first-round pick in a class that features quite the crop of wide receivers. Unfortunately for Downs, he suffered a lower-body injury in the season opener against Florida A&M and missed the Week 1 matchup with App State. His timetable for return is currently unclear which is a tough break for the star wideout.

In the action that Downs has seen so far this season, he has been as advertised. He recorded nine catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns in North Carolina’s opener.

When healthy, Downs is a lethal weapon with the ball in his hands despite standing at just 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. He’s an electric playmaker that can step into Kevin O’Connell’s offense as a star receiver out of the slot and perhaps out of the backfield at times.

He’s a smooth athlete that makes everything after the catch seem easier than it should. His ability to turn up the field and make defenders miss is something that the NFL will love.

Minnesota opted to roll with the same wide receivers heading into this season at the top of the depth chart. Adam Thielen has to really impress in 2022 if he wants to be a key contributor in 2023 after a few down years, but K.J. Osborn has done an excellent job as the slot guy.

As the Vikings look to the future, they need another weapon to play alongside Justin Jefferson. That does not have to be a high draft pick or even a veteran trade target. Downs or another wide receiver on Day 2 next spring would get the job done.

Ultimately, his size is going to knock him down a bit in the draft, but Minnesota would be smart to have him on their shortlist of targets on Day 2.