The Minnesota Vikings picked up some pretty solid players in the 2022 NFL Draft, although there are questions whether they helped themselves as much as they could have.
If the Vikings made their top two picks without any trades, they could have landed Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth. Instead, they moved up and down the draft board multiple times and made trades that allowed a pair of division rivals to select highly touted receivers.
If Jameson Williams and Christian Watson emerged into explosive receivers for the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, respectively, this is going to be a draft that Minnesota fans will fret about for years to come.
If this group helps Minnesota return to the playoffs for the first time since 2019, some of those eye-opening moves during the three days of the NFL Draft might be overlooked.
According to the NFL betting lines, Minnesota (+275) is picked to finish second behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Central Division.
Here is a look at the Vikings’ draft selections.
Pick 32 Lewis Cine | S, Georgia Bulldogs
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the selection of Cine at the end of the first round. However, a closer look at the events leading to Minnesota having pick No. 32 could be talked about for years to come.
Minnesota had the 12th overall selection and opted to trade it for more draft capital. The problem is, the trade was done so division rival Detroit could select Jameson Williams, who some NFL draft analysts thought was the best receiver in the draft. What Minnesota picked up for dropping down 20 spots in the first round was not received much better than the Vikings aiding a team they have to play twice every season. Detroit only had to drop down 12 spots in the second round and surrender a third-round selection to make this move.
Kwesi’s reaction when we landed @LewisCine is everything.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) May 14, 2022
Cine could be just what Minnesota needed in the secondary but the Vikings better hope that Williams doesn’t live up to his potential as a dynamic playmaker. If that does happen, it might be hard living this trade down.
Pick 42 Andrew Booth | CB, Clemson Tigers
Minnesota wasn’t done aiding a division rival. The Vikings acquired picks Nos. 53 and 59 so the Green Bay Packers could move up to select receiver Christian Watson with the 34th overall selection. Minnesota would make another deal to move up from 53rd to 42nd to draft Booth, one of the better cornerback prospects in the draft.
The irony of this wheeling and dealing is that Booth might need to spend the next 10-12 seasons trying to cover Williams and Watson, the players acquired thanks to Minnesota’s generosity.
Booth was a major reason why Clemson had the top-rated defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He will definitely help improve the secondary for the Vikings.
Only one player taken outside the first round has better odds than Booth to be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year according to the Las Vegas odds.
Pick 59 Ed Ingram | OL, Louisiana State Tigers
Ed Ingram made 32 career starts at LSU at either left guard or right guard. It won’t be a surprise to see him earn playing time right away. Like many players at LSU, 2021 wasn’t his best season, resulting in a variety of opinions on Ingram heading into the draft.
Ingram was part of the offensive line rotation in 2019 when the Tigers went 15-0 and won the national championship.
Ingram had the chance to go head-to-head with multiple defensive linemen who were taken in the first three rounds in the last three NFL drafts. That should help him adjust to life as an NFL lineman.
Pick 66 Brian Asamoah | LB, Oklahoma Sooners
Asamoah was the leading tackler for Oklahoma in each of the last two seasons. He had 13 tackles for loss and five sacks in 36 games, so he was used more as a stay at home linebacker.
It remains to be seen how Minnesota plans on utilizing him. He will join what should be an improved linebacking group. Jordan Hicks, who recorded more than 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons, was brought in along with Zá’Darius Smith (26 sacks during the 2019 and 2020 seasons) to join veteran Eric Kendricks. Asamoah won’t be asked to be the star of the defense but, with a talented group around him, he could thrive as a rookie.
The Vikings also signed a pair of linebackers as undrafted rookie free agents so it could be a crowded linebacker room.
Pick 118 Akayleb Evans | DB, Missouri Tigers
The 6-foot-2 Akayleb Evans has the length that NFL teams are looking for in its cornerback prospects.
Evans played in 30 games at Tulsa before playing his final season at Missouri. He had the chance to play against four receivers taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.
Evans helped himself at the NFL Scouting Combine, posting a broad jump of 10 feet, 9 inches, which was second among his position group. His time of 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical leap certainly didn’t hurt his draft stock.
If the Vikings don’t have an improved secondary, it won’t be because they didn’t attempt to upgrade at the position.
Minnesota surrendering a fifth-round pick and a fourth-rounder in 2023 for Evans does seem a bit excessive at first glance.
Pick 165 Esezi Otomewo | DL, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Otomewo has the frame teams love at 6-foot-6, 280-290 pounds. His production at Minnesota was somewhat limited with 7½ sacks in 46 career games.
The Vikings took Otomewo more for his potential rather than anything they saw on tape. He has the size to play a variety of different positions on the defensive line. Perhaps he’ll have a chance to work in the rotation at the defensive end spot opposite pass-rushing dynamo Danielle Hunter.
Pick 169 Ty Chandler | RB, North Carolina Tar Heels
With Dalvin Cook in Minnesota, Chandler is not going to get the opportunity to contribute as quickly as former North Carolina running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter did as rookies a season ago.
After recording three 100-yard rushing games in 44 games at Tennessee, Chandler matched that total in 13 games at North Carolina in 2021.
Chandler was utilized as a kickoff returner early in his time at Tennessee and caught 73 career passes, so his versatility should help him make some sort of an impact as a rookie.
Pick 184 Vederian Lowe | OL, Illinois Fighting Illini
Vederian Lowe had more than 50 career starts at left tackle while at Illinois and checks all the boxes when it comes to character and leadership.
He didn’t test that well in the pre-draft process with a vertical leap of 25½ inches and broad jump of 8-3. With his experience, the Vikings were willing to overlook a lack of explosiveness in track and field events and will give him a chance to earn a spot in the offensive line rotation.
Pick 191 Jalen Nailor | WR, Michigan State Spartans
Jalen Nailor is the third Big Ten product picked by the Vikings. He displayed big-play potential for the Spartans, averaging 19.2 yards on 65 receptions with 10 touchdowns over his final two seasons.
His career numbers in college were impacted by injury, including his final season when he missed four games. He is a Nevada native with a sprinting background. He also has some experience returning punts, so he was worth a late-round pick for the Vikings.
Pick 227 Nick Muse | TE, South Carolina Gamecocks
Muse’s tape in a 2020 loss to Georgia should have been enough to land him a spot as an NFL draft pick. He had eight catches for 131 yards against a star-studded Georgia defense that would become one of the most dominant units in recent college football history a year later.
Muse had a rather quiet 2021 season as he had one game with more than two catches. He began his college career at William & Mary. He has the athleticism to make it as an NFL tight end. Other than Irv Smith Jr., who is coming off a knee injury that cost him the 2021 NFL season, there isn’t much standing in Muse’s way when it comes to tight ends on the Minnesota roster.
Grading the Draft
If Minnesota’s front office got paid by the trade, the three days of the 2022 NFL Draft would have been a lucrative affair.
The Vikings started off with an uphill battle as Minnesota gave up a fifth-round pick and moved down 67 spots for two players no longer on the roster.
Not one of the 10 selections made by the Vikings originally belonged to the team.
The secondary should be improved. After using first-, second- and third-round picks in the previous three drafts to select interior offensive linemen, the decision to take LSU’s Ed Ingram 59th overall is a little bit on the curious side.
Just call this the wait-and-see draft for the Vikings as none of the picks should impact the NFL predictions for the 2022 Vikings. Let’s check the Super Bowl odds.