Predicting what the Vikings will do in the 2023 NFL Draft based on 2022

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) Kelee Ringo
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) Kelee Ringo /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) Mazi Smith /

First Round

Trade down to Pick No. 31 and address a need with a name not tied to many mock drafts

Last year the Vikings moved all the way from pick No. 12 down to pick No. 32. They moved back twenty spaces, swapped second-rounders, and acquired an early third-round pick. One can argue about the value of that move, but that’s what they did.

With the 32nd pick, the Vikings chose Georgia safety Lewis Cine. That was a mild surprise as cornerback was seen as a bigger need, and there wasn’t a whole lot of buzz that the team was in on him.

If the Vikings take a similar approach and address a need that isn’t getting a lot of attention right now, then they could end up with Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith.

Defensive line is a big need for the Vikings, but one that is flying under the radar a bit. Recent mock drafts have the Vikings going with a quarterback or wide receiver. If it isn’t those two positions, then it seems like cornerback is the next most popular option.

Drafting Smith would be a very similar move to taking Cine. It’s a need, but not considered the top one, and Smith is likely seen as the fourth or fifth best prospect at his position, just like Cine was.

Smith is an impressive prospect who can stuff the run and provide pressure on quarterbacks. Kwesi could fall in love with him just like he did with Cine.

He will also realize that he can get him later in the draft and could give the Kansas City Chiefs a call knowing they will want to move up to get one of the top receivers in this class. Perhaps they get an additional third and fifth-round pick in the trade down, and then land their man in Mazi Smith at pick No. 31.