6 players the Vikings should have drafted instead of Irv Smith Jr.

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) A.J. Brown
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) A.J. Brown /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) A.J. Brown /

A.J. Brown – WR

If Vikings fans pull up the 2019 draft on Pro Football Reference, they may want to avert their eyes. While Smith was selected with the 50th overall pick, A.J. Brown was taken by the Titans with the very next selection, introducing a new superstar to the NFL.

Brown’s draft process was an interesting one. He went from being a sure-fire, first-round pick at the beginning of his senior season at Mississippi, to one who may have benefitted from a system that made Laquon Treadwell look good.

A photo with another prominent Rebels receiver (who we will get to later in this article) somehow convinced executives he was too buff to play in the NFL, and Brown slid all the way to the 51st overall pick in the draft.

To the Vikings’ credit, they were not the only team to make this mistake. Brown set the league on fire in the second half of his rookie season and became one of the top playmakers in the league. His size and speed were a problem for opposing defenses, and he posted 1,000 yards in three of his first four seasons – including 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

It’s curious to wonder how taking Brown would have affected the Vikings, who had Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen emerging prior to the 2019 season. With a run-first offense, there might not have been enough targets to keep Brown happy. Even if Diggs still demanded a trade the following off-season, the presence of Brown would have kept the Vikings from drafting Justin Jefferson, causing another ripple effect.

Then again, the Vikings could have just taken Jefferson anyway and proceeded to give Kirk Cousins two elite receivers. Either way, Brown could have been the player that gave the Vikings’ offense another dimension of explosiveness.