5 prospects the Vikings could miss out on without a 2023 second-round pick

Who are five 2023 prospects the Minnesota Vikings likely won’t be able to get because they don’t have a pick in the second round?

The Minnesota Vikings find themselves without a pick in the second round of the draft after trading for T.J. Hockenson last November.

The Vikings definitely don’t regret the move, as Hockenson instantly made an impact and went on to haul in 60 receptions for 519 yards and three touchdowns.

Now it’s time to pay up as the 2023 NFL Draft approaches. The Senior Bowl, East-West Bowl, and NFL Scouting Combine have come and gone. Prospects have risen and fallen after those events, and now we have a better understanding of who will be available in that late second-round area where the pick lies that Minnesota traded away.

The Vikings have some pretty big needs that include wide receiver, defensive tackle, linebacker, and cornerback. There will be some good prospects at those positions on the board when Minnesota was originally supposed to pick.

Here are five prospects the Vikings will miss out on without having that second-round choice.

Josh Downs – WR (North Carolina)

The Vikings’ need for a new wide receiver No. 2 to replace Adam Thielen is real. As of this writing, they haven’t signed a wideout in free agency, so they’ll look toward the draft to fill that hole. One guy in that fringe first/second-round range is UNC’s Josh Downs.

Downs doesn’t possess great size as he measured in at just 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds. He has plenty of speed though, running the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds.

Despite his smaller stature, Downs is excellent at battling for contested balls and winning that battle. He knows exactly when to time his jump to go up and snatch the ball away from a defender.

As a runner with the ball in his hands, Downs is fantastic. He’s elusive with great vision, and that speed and burst help break away from defenders or bust through tackles.

Downs is an exciting prospect who could sneak into the first round. He’s more likely to end up going somewhere in the second, which means the Vikings will have no shot at selecting him.

Tyrique Stevenson – CB (Miami)

The Vikings have addressed cornerback in free agency with the addition of Byron Murphy. That was a huge signing, but they aren’t done adding talent, competition, and depth to that position.

They are still very likely to address it early in the draft, and one prospect who is expected to be a solid second-round pick is Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson.

Stevenson isn’t a guy who does one thing exceptionally well, but he’s very solid in every aspect of the position. He’s got good size at 6-feet and 198 pounds and had a very good week at the Senior Bowl. He’s definitely proven he can excel in press-man coverage and play on an island just the way Brian Flores likes his corners to roll.

Stevenson isn’t a ball hawk with just three career interceptions for the Hurricanes, but he will come up and support the run with an astounding 115 tackles in his tenure at Miami.

There are splashier corners in this draft, but if the Vikings want a guy who can come in from day one and be sticky in coverage who is technically and fundamentally sound, then Stevenson would be an ideal fit.

John Michael Schmitz – C (Minnesota)

The Vikings did resign Garrett Bradbury to a three-year deal in free agency. While, at first blush, that makes it appear he’s the Vikings’ immediate solution at the position, the contract itself provides a little wiggle room.

Bradbury is basically making $5 million a year. That is decent bank, but it doesn’t mean the team is tied to him permanently. If Bradbury reverts to his 2021, or even 2022 form, they can cut him and not be hit too hard down the road.

So they could look for insurance at some point in the draft, and if they still had a second-round choice, Minnesota’s own John Michael Schmitz could have been an option.

Michael Schmitz is about as well-rounded a center prospect as there is. He’s strong in the running game, showcasing the athletic ability to get outside and lead a play. He can also get to the second level making blocks down the field that spring long runs.

Bradbury often struggles to anchor in pass protection, but Michael Schmitz is very strong in that area, using his thick lower base and powerful core to hold strong and ward off the big, bulky nose tackles that line up across from him.

John Michael Schmitz was a standout last season at Minnesota, a standout at the Senior Bowl, and had a very good Combine. All arrows point to him being the first center off the board, which is likely to happen at some point in the second round, which means the Vikings won’t be the ones turning the card in.

Jack Campbell – LB (Iowa)

It’ll be interesting to see if the Vikings draft a linebacker this year. They shockingly brought back Jordan Hicks but released Eric Kendricks. 

The Kendricks’ release wasn’t a surprise as Brian Asamoah is waiting in the wings, but the team seems high on Troy Dye and William Kwenkeu, so maybe they are okay with the current talent and depth.

If they aren’t, one player who will be a great value in the second round is Iowa’s Jack Campbell. Campbell was a beast at Iowa, where he racked up 299 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, and five interceptions.

Campbell has crazy size standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 249 pounds. He had a very solid Combine workout at that size, running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, with a 37.5″ vertical and 10’8″ broad jump.

Campbell has the ability to start very early in his NFL career and could beat out Jordan Hicks in camp if he ends up in purple.

There is an outside chance that Campbell slides to the third round, but it’s not often a linebacker with this size and athletic ability become available, so he’s likely to be out of the Vikings’ range and come off the board in round two.

Mazi Smith – DT (Michigan)

Defensive line has crept to the top of the Vikings’ needs list after the first week of free agency. They were majorly outbid for Dalvin Tomlinson’s services by the Browns, and that leaves them desperately thin at defensive end.

The team can’t go into the season with a combination of James Lynch and Esezi Otomewo as the starters. They need to add one in free agency and then address the position early in the draft. One player they likely will miss out on because they don’t have a pick in the second round is Michigan’s Mazi Smith.

Smith is a very impressive prospect. He’s got a thick build with a massive upper body. So he’s got the mass to plug running lanes and stuff the run, but he is also explosive off the ball.

While he doesn’t have the stats to back it up, Smith’s quick get-off and powerful lower body enable him to crash into opponents’ backfields. This allows him to pressure the quarterback or stop the runner before he gets anywhere near the line of scrimmage.

Mazi Smith is a prospect who has been getting some late first-round buzz as of late. While he could sneak into the latter portion of the first round, he’s more likely to come off the board in round two, and the Vikings will be able to do nothing about it.

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