The 2022 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 28. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position is in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2022 NFL Draft hub.
What Picks do the Minnesota Vikings have in 2022
The Minnesota Vikings have eight picks.
Round 1 (12)
Round 2 (46)
Round 3 (77)
Round 5 (156)
Round 6 (184)
Round 6 (191)
Round 6 (192)
Round 7 (250)
Minnesota Vikings Top POSITIONS OF NEED
Interior OL, WR, TE, CB, S
Minnesota Vikings Strength of Schedule, 2022
The Minnesota Vikings have the 10th easiest NFL strength of schedule for the 2022 NFL season.
Minnesota Vikings Offense
By Rich Hribar
Kirk Cousins inked a one-year extension this offseason to move money around, all but ensuring that he is the starter for the Vikings over the next two seasons.
The Vikings are a long shot to take a quarterback here, but the backup situation in Minnesota remains one of the league’s worst as anytime we have had to see Sean Mannion play meaningful football it has been a disaster.
The team still has Kellen Mond in his second season after selecting him in the third round last year to press Mannion as the QB2.
C.J. Ham (FB)
Dalvin Cook showed a little wear last season. Despite 1,383 yards from scrimmage, Cook averaged a career-low 4.9 yards per touch while he averaged a career-low 2.6 receptions per game for just 6.6 yards per catch.
Cook also had to fight a number of injuries, missing another four games, leaving him without a full season played through five years in the league.
The Vikings still have Cook signed through 2025, although they could get out of his contract at any point after this season with palatable dead cap. That said, this is still completely Cook’s backfield at the moment.
Alexander Mattison is in the final year of his rookie deal while Kene Nwangwu is still a work in progress at getting significant work as a runner.
The Vikings could add a late-round rookie contract here but are more than in a spot where they can kick the can on this backfield as it is currently built and address the potential of Mattison moving on or Cook tailing off next offseason.
Minnesota has a true superstar on its hands in Justin Jefferson. While they inevitably will have to hand him a massive contract, the team has plenty of runway left in getting to that point.
Adam Thielen averaged a career-low 10.8 yards per catch, but he remained one of the best touchdown-or-bust options, scoring 10 times over 13 games before an ankle injury cut his season short.
Thielen will turn 32 this August. He restructured his deal this offseason, which leaves Minnesota with an out to move after this season ($13.5 million in dead cap), but more likely 2024 ($7 million).
K.J. Osborn chipped in a productive season in his second year in the league, catching 50 passes for 655 yards and seven touchdowns. That said, his 46% success rate per target was the lowest of the wideouts this offense leaned.
Osborn can continue to improve but paired with Theilen’s age and declining peripheral output of his own, wide receiver is sneakily a larger need for this offense than assumed on the surface.
This is not only for insurance on Thielen or upgrading talent on Osborn, but also factoring in new head coach Kevin O’Connell, who comes from an offensive tree that has lived in 11 personnel. This past season, Minnesota was 26th in the league in offensive plays with three or more wide receivers on the field (583) while the Rams were first (906). Minnesota does not have to push wide receiver at pick No. 12, but they should add to the position.
We still do not know what we have in Irv Smith Jr. as he missed all of 2021 due to a meniscus injury. Many had hoped it would be a breakout year for Smith in his third season with Kyle Rudolph leaving in the offseason, but now Smith enters the final year of his rookie contract with a lot to prove.
Smith is still a puppy (turning 24 years old in August) that took a step forward in year two, upping his yards per catch from 8.6 to 12.2 in 2020 while scoring five times after twice as a rookie. Smith is the only receiving tight end on the roster, so there is a lot riding on his return.
After Smith, blocking tight end Johnny Mundt followed O’Connell to Minnesota. Mundt is the only tight end on the roster currently signed beyond this season. While the Vikings still have upside in Smith, they should explore adding insurance and contractual depth to the position with a later pick if they do not add another veteran.
LT: Christian Darrisaw/Blake Brandel
LG: Ezra Cleveland/Wyatt Davis/Kyle Hinton
C: Garrett Bradbury/Austin Schlottman
RG: Jesse Davis/Oli Udoh/Chris Reed
RT: Brian O’Neill/Timon Parris
Minnesota has long been chasing trying to solidify this offensive line, and 2021 was another season where they were at the back end of the league in output up front.
The Vikings closed the year 25th in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate (54%), although much better in their run blocking win rate metric, ranking 13th (71%). Per Pro Football Focus, the Vikings ranked 17th in pressure rate allowed (34.6%), but Cousins has been great at limiting sacks as they were just fifth in sack rate allowed (4.7%).
Minnesota has invested a lot of recent draft capital into the position as four of their five projected starters were selected by the team in the first or second round, with all of Darrisaw, Cleveland, and Bradbury selected over the past three drafts.
The good news is that the three players with the highest pressure rates allowed in 2021 (Rashod Hill, Mason Cole, and Oli Udoh) are not expected to be starters or are no longer with the team.
For better or worse, the Vikings have all of their starting spots locked up outside of right guard and only Garrett Bradbury is on a potentially expiring contract (his fifth-year option remains available until May 2nd). Given that Bradbury was 30th in grades among centers in 2021 per Pro Football Focus, it is hard to believe the Vikings will pick that option up.
With Darrisaw and O’Neil signed for multiple seasons, the tackle spots are secure, but the interior offensive line can be added to for competition and contractual depth.
Minnesota signed veteran Jesse Davis from the Dolphins to compete at right guard. Davis struggled in 2021, allowing a 8.9% pressure rate over 644 pass blocking snaps. Chris Reed will turn 30 years old this July, drawing 29 starts over his seven years in the league. He spent 2021 with the Colts, allowing a 6.2% pressure rate on 259 pass blocking snaps.
Minnesota Vikings Defense
By Dan Pizzuta
Interior Defensive Line
The Vikings were one of the league’s worst run defenses last season, 29th in EPA allowed per rush attempt. Enter Harrison Phillips, who ranked eighth in ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate among defensive tackles with the Buffalo Bills last season. Phillips also ranked 30th at the position in pressure rate, which was better than any Vikings interior defender in 2021.
Phillips will line up next to Dalvin Tomlinson, who played 53% of the defensive snaps last season. Tomlinson was 47th among defensive tackles in pressure rate. Tomlinson’s pass rush has never been his biggest asset but his impact run defense also fell slightly short in 2021 with just two tackles for loss after 15 combined over the past two seasons. His contract voids after the 2022 season.
Armon Watts played 55% of the defensive snaps and had some pass rush production with 10 quarterback hits after three combined his previous two seasons. Watts, a 2019 sixth-round pick, is on the final year of his rookie deal.
Patrick Jones II
The Vikings lost Danielle Hunter to a torn pec midseason and it appeared they might lose him this offseason but a potential trade never materialized. Instead, Minnesota restructured his contract to keep him through the 2023 season.
When healthy, Hunter remains a top pass rusher, having 29 combined sacks from 2019-2020. Hunter was 32nd in pressure rate among edge rushers last season in his limited time on the field.
Za’Darius Smith will be the No. 2 across from Hunter after he briefly flirted with signing back in Baltimore this offseason. Smith missed just about all of the 2021 season but had 26 combined sacks over the previous two seasons.
D.J. Wonnum played 79% of the defensive snaps in 2021 and put up eight sacks, but those came on just 15 quarterback hits. He ranked 83rd among 102 edge rushers in pressure rate last season but profiles much better as a No. 3 than the full-time player he was last season.
Eric Kendricks had some ups and downs in coverage. He was good at deterring targets but when he was thrown at, yards were gained — he ranked 65th among linebackers in yards allowed per coverage snap, though 20th in targets per coverage snap.
The Vikings signed Jordan Hicks, who continued to play well as the Arizona Cardinals tried to force him out of the starting lineup but couldn’t. Hicks is going to turn 30 years old in June but he was one of the league’s best coverage linebackers last season — 12th in yards allowed per coverage snap.
Patrick Peterson had a bit of a bounceback in his first season with the Vikings, ranking 38th among cornerbacks in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap, which accounts for touchdowns and interceptions. Peterson will turn 32 years old in July and announced he will return to Minnesota for another season.
Cameron Dantzler played 57% of the defensive snaps across 14 games and had a solid year in his sophomore season, ranked 29th in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap.
The Vikings brought in some reinforcements for depth with Chandon Sullivan and Nate Hairston. Sullivan played a super-utility role for the Packers last season, playing 77% of the defensive snaps. He ranked 12 in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap. Hairston only played limited snaps for the Broncos last season, but has been a solid slot corner throughout his career. Both were only brought in on one-year deals.
Harrison Smith has been a constant in the Minnesota defensive backfield. The safety turned 33 years old in February and while he contract runs through 2025, the money flow suggests this will be the last year with the Vikings.
That’s going to put a lot of focus on the future, since there isn’t even a clear answer for a second safety to play with Smith for 2022. Last season, that was Xavier Woods, who played 100% of the defensive snaps on a one-year deal, but he left in free agency.
Camryn Bynum, a 2021 fourth-round pick, played 17% of the defensive snaps in his rookie season and would likely be the starting safety if the season started today.