With the 2023 NFL draft just one month away, and free agency winding down, many teams are beginning to figure out how they will look to round out their rosters. This includes the Minnesota Vikings.
Heading into the draft, the Vikings have needs on both sides of the ball. Some of the areas that they could look to address are wide receiver, cornerback, defensive line, or even quarterback in the first round. At pick 24, they could have several elite prospects to choose from. But some may be a better fit than others.
Here are three players the Vikings could target in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft
Lukas Van Ness, Defensive End, Iowa
When looking at the current makeup of the Vikings defense, they have young playmakers spread across the group. With players such as cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. and linebacker Brian Asamoah II, they have core pieces in place, but the defensive front is missing this. By adding Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness, they would be addressing a potential need in the biggest way possible.
Over the past two seasons, Van Ness was a key contributor to an elite Iowa defense. While taking the field in 26 games over this time, he recorded 70 total tackles, 34 solo tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks.
While Van Ness has just two years of experience, he has proven that he can perform at a high level. Given that he can join a defense such as this, that already has veterans throughout the game, he could develop his game quickly. He could also step in and contribute from day one.
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
With the Vikings decision to move on from their longtime WR2 in Adam Thielen, the team now has a major need at wide receiver. Jefferson will continue to be the star of the passing attack, but if the team hopes to continue to have a well-rounded offense, they will need another reliable weapon. USC wide receiver Jordan Addison could be just that.
During his three collegiate seasons, Addison developed into a star at the wide receiver position.
Addison made his collegiate debut at Pitt in 2020. In his freshman season, he appeared in 10 games. During that time, he recorded 60 receptions for 666 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Heading into 2021, Addison’s role grew in the Pitt offense. He finished his sophomore season recording 100 receptions for 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns over 14 games.
Following the 2021 campaign, Addison chose to enter the transfer portal. He ultimately landed at USC. While injuries impacted his final season, he still played solid football. Over 11 games, he recorded 59 receptions for 875 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Addison isn’t the biggest wide receiver at 5’11” and 173 pounds, and he didn’t turn heads at the combine. But when healthy, few wide receivers can impact the game in the way that he can.
A passing attack led by Jefferson and Addison, alongside K.J. Osborn and T.J. Hockenson could be one of the more solid groups in the NFL in 2023. If Addison is on the board at pick 24, he could be a potential target for this Vikings offense.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
The Vikings find themselves in an interesting spot at the quarterback position. With Kirk Cousins leading the charge, they have one of the NFL’s more reliable QB1s. Yet even with Cousins on the roster, there is still room for improvement at the position. With just one year remaining on his contract, the two sides could soon look to go their separate ways.
At pick 24, many of the top quarterback options will already be off of the board. But Tennesee’s Hendon Hooker could be a possibility.
After spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Virginia Tech, Hooker made the move to Tennessee in 2021. Over two seasons and 24 games, Hooker looked to be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
During the 2021 season, Hooker took the field in 13 games. He finished the year throwing for 2,945 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. On the ground, he added 616 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
In 2022, Hooker returned to the field prepared to play the best football of his career. While taking the field in 11 games, he threw for 3,135 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. On the ground, he added 430 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Hooker, he suffered a torn ACL in Week 11. Now heading into the NFL draft at 25 years old and coming off of a seas0n-ending knee injury, he has become the odd man out of this year’s top quarterbacks.
While Hooker will likely not be available for this season, he won’t need to be if he falls to the Vikings. With Cousins still leading the charge, Hooker could have the opportunity to both learn from one of the NFL’s more established quarterbacks while also returning to full health.
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