2023 NFL Draft: Seven-round post-free agency Vikings mock draft

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Tanner McKee
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Tanner McKee /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) Mazi Smith /

First Round (Pick No. 23)

Mazi Smith – DT (Michigan)

The 23rd overall pick feels like “No Man’s Land” when it comes to this year’s draft. The Vikings are too far in the draft order to grab one of this year’s quarterback prospects, and the cornerbacks also seem to be rising up the board as we get closer to the draft.

The Vikings could also take a receiver here, but this class has started to fall after none of the top prospects outside of Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a great workout at the combine. This could lead the Vikings to an upgrade in the trenches, and Mazi Smith would be a fine choice.

Smith is one of the biggest prospects in the draft, standing at 6-foot-2 and 323 pounds. While he opted out of several tests at this year’s combine, he ranked in the 88th percentile in this year’s class with 34 reps in the bench press and was the No. 1 player on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List.”

This puts Smith in great company as Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs (2019), Indianapolis Colts edge rusher Kwity Paye (2020), and New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (2021) were the last three players to top the list.

The only question here is whether the Vikings would be reaching for another defensive tackle with their limited draft capital. But while Harrison Phillips and Dean Lowry are fine rotational pieces, Smith is the athletic specimen that Brian Flores had with Vince Wilfork in New England and Christian Wilkins in Miami.