2024 NFL Mock Draft: Minnesota Vikings full 7-round projection in late-January

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Minnesota Vikings full 7-round projection in late-January
2024 NFL Mock Draft: Minnesota Vikings full 7-round projection in late-January / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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The Minnesota Vikings finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the playoffs. One could conclude that the bulk of the disappointment falls on the early season loss of quarterback Kirk Cousins. It could also be tied to the departure of aging running back Dalvin Cook. Whatever the reason, head coach Kevin O'Connell needs to right the ship quickly.

Cousins hits free agency, and his comments about wanting to play for Bill Belichick indicate that he is interested in leaving, even if Bill doesn't end up a coach somewhere. Josh Dobbs, who filled in for Cousins will also be a free agent, leaving fifth-round pick Jaren Hall as the current starter on the roster.

The team also sees their sack leader, Danielle Hunter, also hitting the market. Not a great time to have just $29 million in cap space. Linebacker Jordan Hicks and wide receiver KJ Osborne also hit the market. Some of these holes can be filled in free agency, but with eight picks in the 2024 NFL Daft, most of the holes will be filled via the draft.

There are no trades in this mock draft, so the Vikings will draft where currently scheduled at No. 11, 42, 108, 129, 155, 164, 178 and 227.

Round 1, Pick 11: Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

While many mock drafts will have the Vikings targeting their next quarterback in the draft, I see the team's most immediate need as an edge rusher, especially if they inevitably lose Danielle Hunter. Teams win by forcing turnovers, and in a passing league, that means pressuring the quarterback into bad throws and intercepting them.

Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse is built for the task (6-foot-4 and 260 pounds), and ready to make instant contributions. In 2022 he had 17 tackles for a loss and nine sacks, and if he had entered the draft, some scouts were comparing him to Will Anderson from Alabama.

He chose to return to school and chase a national championship. He finished the 2023 season with 12.5 tackles for a loss and again had nine sacks. He packs an arsenal of pass-rush moves and plays with a high football IQ. He plays with an incredibly high motor until the whistle blows.

He uses his speed well, but on run plays can overshoot the play, and he does need to work on his technique in tackling the ball carrier. The Vikings aren't taking him here for his run-stopping ability though. He is being brought in to sack the quarterback, period.