4 early contenders for the Minnesota Vikings first-round pick in 2023

(Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Branch
(Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Branch /
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Which 2023 NFL Draft prospects could emerge as leading contenders to become the first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings?

After a season where the Minnesota Vikings attained 13 wins came crashing to an abrupt halt, some major changes could be on the horizon. Sunday’s disappointing playoff loss against the New York Giants was anticipated by many, but it was a clear sign that Kevin O’Connell’s record wasn’t all it seemed.

Sure, the Vikings went 11-0 in one-score games, which helped. But there were some glaring flaws that emerged in key moments and reared their ugly head throughout the team’s wildcard defeat.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and his staff have a lot of hard work ahead this offseason. If they want to strengthen problem areas on the cheap, then hitting on their draft picks is undoubtedly the best way to accomplish this feat.

With this in mind, here are four early contenders to become Minnesota’s first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Prospect No. 1

Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) Brian Branch /

Brian Branch – DB

Harrison Smith is not getting any younger, and those partnering with the All-Pro didn’t exactly set the world alight in 2022. The Vikings’ decision to let Xavier Woods walk in free agency was sorely felt, so utilizing a high-end pick on a prolific safety should be considered by those in power.

Brian Branch comes into the evaluation process on the back of an outstanding campaign with the Alabama Crimson Tide. He is a true ballhawk on the backend that has no trouble assisting in run support thanks to tackling that’s nothing short of ferocious.

Branch also has the versatility to play as a cornerback if needed. Something else that will aid his draft stock considerably in the coming weeks.