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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Minnesota Vikings
(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) Trenton Simpson /

Trenton Simpson – LB

It’s time for the Minnesota Vikings to form a contingency plan within their linebacking corps. Eric Kendricks has been an incredible player for the team, but Father Time waits for no man, and he’s been a shell of his former self in 2022.

Kendricks looked lost during Minnesota’s playoff reverse versus the New York Giants. Jordan Hicks didn’t perform much better alongside the All-Pro, so starting fresh on the interior could be the best thing for the franchise long-term.

Releasing Kendricks and Hicks this offseason saves the Vikings $14.5 million in salary-cap space. Something that looks entirely possible, given how the pair struggled throughout the campaign.

This could be one of the biggest needs depending on what conclusions those in power make. Trenton Simpson might be the problem-solver the Vikings are looking for at the second level.

Simpson’s physicality, speed, and athleticism saw him emerge as a star for a Clemson Tigers defense that’s littered with NFL-caliber talent. He can rush the passer, become forceful against the run, and also excels from a coverage standpoint to further enhance his influence.

There are very few flaws to Simpson’s game. Should the Vikings decide to part ways with Kendricks and/or Hicks, then this appears to be an outstanding successor in the making.