Years from now, Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will look back at the 2022 NFL Draft and wonder just what he was doing. The Vikings had the No. 12 pick in the opening round, but when Derek Stingley Jr. was selected early (No. 3 by the Houston Texans), Adofo-Mensah knew he wasn’t going to get his man.
So, Adofo-Mensah started making trades, and he made two trades to division rivals in the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. Adofo-Mensah will eventually learn that trading within the division is a pursuit that is fraught with peril. He did not know that while conducting his first draft as the man in charge.
This is the kind of rookie mistake that could prove costly to the Vikings. Adofo-Mensah’s first trade allowed the Lions to select wideout Jameson Williams of Alabama, and the second deal gave the Packers the opportunity to choose Christian Watson, another wide out from North Dakota State. There is every chance that both of these receivers could torment the Vikings for years to come.
The Vikings used their first-round pick (No. 32) to select Lewis Cine from Georgia, one of the most aggressive and effective safeties in college football. Cine is expected to start next to veteran Harrison Smith at free safety, and it appears that the rookie has the characteristic that is most needed at that specific position – instincts.
A free safety must be able to read the field, the quarterback’s eyes and the body language of the receivers. Cine displayed those abilities with the Bulldogs, and the Minnesota coaching staff must allow his skills in those areas to continue to grow.
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Second-round selection Andrew Booth Jr. of Clemson gives the Vikings a player with superior talent at the cornerback position, something the team desperately needs. The problem with Booth stems from his injury history. He’s a dynamic plyer when he can stay on the field, but that has not always been the case.
The other second-round choice of offensive lineman Ed Ingram was curious. Ingram projects at guard on the Vikings, and the LSU product has the upper body strength to hold his own against nose tackles and three techniques. However, there are some sloppy aspects to his play that will have to be cleaned up quickly.
Linebacker Brian Asamoah of Oklahoma was selected in the third round and he is an undersized player at 6-0 and 226 pounds. But Asamoah has sideline-to-sideline range and the speed to make plays all over the field. He projects as a player who should be able to make contributions on special teams right away and could develop into a starter at outside linebacker.
The Vikings traded up in the fourth round to pick Akayleb Evans, a cornerback from Missouri. It became clear at this point that Adofo-Mensah is committed to improving the team’s weakness at the position. Evans’ best attributes at this point are his size and ability to pound opposing receivers and ball carriers. His ability to hit can result in forced fumbles, but he has not developed the skills at this point to demonstrate that he can get the job done in coverage.
Edge rusher Esezi Otomewo was selected in the fifth round and the local product from the University of Minnesota is something of a project. Otomewo seems more likely to serve as interior defensive lineman at the next level because of his overall athletic ability, but he does not have the sophistication to his game at this point play regularly.
Wide receiver Jailen Nailor of Michigan State may turn out to be the best of the Vikings’ late-round picks that also included running back Ty Chandler of North Carolina, offensive tackle Vederian Lowe of Illinois and tight end Nick Muse of South Carolina.
Nailor has the skills to get open on a regular basis and could turn out to be a versatile receiving option. The Vikings have a great 1-2 punch at wide receiver in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and Nailor looks like a strong third option even though he is not overly physical.