5 early defensive possibilities for the Vikings in the 2023 NFL Draft

(Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images) Clark Phillips III
(Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images) Clark Phillips III /
4 of 6
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Trenton Simpson /

Trenton Simpson – LB (Clemson)

I am not necessarily an advocate for selecting a linebacker in the first round, but Trenton Simpson requires an exemption. He’s an explosive leader in the middle of the defense that can really impact the game from anywhere. Eric Kendricks has not been himself since the end of last season, leaving the Vikings with some concerns over the middle.

As an uber-athletic field stretcher, Simpson is going to be a problem near the line of scrimmage. He can scream into the backfield for stops but can also beat running backs to the sideline, making him an absolute nightmare in the run game.

Simpson is also an excellent blitzer off the edge and through the A-gap. Minnesota has struggled with generating pressure this season, and this sort of skill set could be worth considering in the draft.

He posted 23.0 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks, and two forced fumbles in three seasons at Clemson. The only true flaw in Simpson’s game right now is his coverage ability, but that has seen steady improvement over this tenure with Clemson.

A future of Simpson and Brian Asamoah roaming the middle of the defense would certainly give Vikings fans a ton of speed and athleticism to watch.