Minnesota Vikings NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Did Trades Down Pan Out in Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s First Draft?
The Vikings drew mixed reviews in the first draft with the new front office combination of head coach Kevin O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Some raved about their ability to pick up a high volume of potential contributors, while others lamented their repeated trades down. One thing is for sure – this draft will help lay the foundation for the future of the Vikings in the image of their new leaders. This article will include a full draft recap for the Vikings’ 2022 draft with grades and analysis for each pick.
Minnesota Vikings Draft Picks 2022
Round 1 No. 32 S Lewis Cine
Round 2 No. 42 CB Andrew Booth Jr.
Round 2 No. 59 OG Ed Ingram
Round 3 No. 66 LB Brian Asamoah
Round 4 No. 118 CB Akayleb Evans
Round 5 No. 165 DE Esezi Otomewo
Round 5 No. 169 RB Ty Chandler
Round 6 No. 184 OT Vederian Lowe
Round 6 No. 191 WR Jalen Nailor
Round 7 No. 227 TE Nick Muse
Overall Draft Grade: B
The Vikings’ draft included six trades as Adofo-Mensah was busy on the phones with other general managers. Fans have had mixed reviews of those trades, but the overlying theme was consistent. Adofo-Mensah follows the Browns’ analytics-based approach, which dictates that acquiring more picks is often better than selecting a player, especially if you can recoup additional value in a trade.
Minnesota ended up with ten selections, the most in this year’s draft, and hopes to have landed high-caliber talent all over the roster. Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr., and Akayleb Evans can bolster a secondary that struggled a season ago. This season, Ed Ingram will compete for a starting spot on the offensive line. Brian Asamoah and Esezi Otomewo help round out the front seven.
The Vikings drafted several high-upside players, emphasizing Days 2 and 3 picks. The real test for this class will be seeing whether or not the sum of these players outweighs the premium players the Vikings could have selected if they hadn’t traded down. I’m putting a slight trigger warning here because the following video might be upsetting for Vikings fans. Brace yourselves.
Enjoy Jameson Williams torching Vikings safety Lewis Cine: pic.twitter.com/qZXXzxYIJ9
— Hot Take Empire (@HotTakeEmpire) May 1, 2022
Minnesota Vikings Draft Grades 2022
Round: 1 Pick: 32 / Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
This draft pick for the Vikings included a trade down with the Lions that allowed their division-mate to move up and select Jameson Williams. Minnesota sent the No. 12 pick in the first round and No. 46 (2nd) for No. 32 (1st), No. 34 (2nd), and No. 66 (3rd). If you follow the traditional Jimmy Johnson draft capital trade chart, the Vikings lost the trade by about the equivalent value of a third-round pick. That may not seem like much, but the team trading up is supposed to need to pay a premium as they’re the ones making the call – that’s especially true of an in-division trade.
As far as the player goes, I love the fit of Lewis Cine in the Vikings’ defense. His impact is arguably not significantly different than the player they would have drafted with the 12th pick. Cine is an absurd athlete with a 9.92 RAS highlighted by a 95th percentile 4.37-second 40-yard dash and a 96th percentile 133” broad jump. Cine uses that elite athleticism to be a tremendous tackler with just a career 6.9% missed tackle rate per Pro Football Focus (PFF). With Cine and Harrison Smith at safety, Minnesota has intriguing options with their secondary in disguising coverages and keeping opponents off-balance.
Lewis Cine had an 87.9 Run Defense Grade since 2020…
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 7, 2022
Round: 2 Pick: 42 / Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The Vikings made another couple of trades to move into this spot. First, they made a clever trade with the Packers and took advantage of their desperation to move up for wide receiver Christian Watson. Minnesota sent Green Bay No. 34 for an additional two second-round picks at No. 53 and No. 59. Then, the Vikings jumped up to No. 42 by sending picks 53, 77, and 192. They also picked up No. 122 in the trade. The surplus value for the Colts in that trade was a fourth-round pick, but that’s typical for a move up like this. The real kicker is that the Vikings got a player I once mocked to them with their original first-round pick at No. 13.
Andrew Booth Jr. dropped down draft boards after suffering a quad strain leading up to the combine and having sports hernia surgery for the second time in April, leading to question marks about his long-term durability. However, the Vikings were confident enough in the medicals to trade up for him, and it could pay off in a big way. Booth Jr. was a top-20 player on my big board with his five-star background and ideal size and length measurables. He’s an excellent athlete with physicality at the catch and agility to cover in space. He can become a long-term high-level starter at a position of need for Minnesota.
The Minnesota Vikings pick Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr. at No. 42 overall.
334 snaps without giving up a catch on a 20+ yard throw 🐅 pic.twitter.com/gH65BHVBP6
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 29, 2022
Round: 2 Pick: 59 / Ed Ingram, OG, LSU
I wish I liked this pick more for the Vikings as they got nice value in the trade to acquire this pick, but I wasn’t a massive fan of Ed Ingram in the pre-draft process. Ingram had off-field issues, and they weren’t typical off-field issues – he was arrested for aggravated sexual assault of a minor and suspended for the 2018 season. After returning to LSU, he failed to improve year-over-year, and his lack of ability to sustain blocks with leverage and power is concerning. He only allowed two sacks in 2021 on 466 pass-blocking snaps per PFF, and his pass-protection is very solid, but his lack of power in a 6’3”, 307-pound frame could make it difficult for him to hang as a starter at guard. Some have speculated that he could replace Garrett Bradbury, a 2023 free agent, as the starting center. Still, I had an early Day 3 grade on him, and I saw this as a reach, given the other offensive linemen still available.
Round: 3 Pick: 66 / Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma
Brian Asamoah is an ideal fit for the Vikings’ defense as a rangy linebacker with sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability. In new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s defense, the Vikings will build a stout 3-4 defensive line with two rangy linebackers in clean-up duty behind what often turns into a five-man front. Asamoah’s foot speed and agility make him a unique talent in coverage, particularly with a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and a background as a running back and track runner. At 6’0”, 226 lbs, he’s not going to be shedding blockers and dominating as a blitzer, but his coverage, instincts, and reaction time are excellent. \
.@BrianAsamoah brings the HEAT 🔥🔥
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) April 30, 2022
Round: 4 Pick: 118 / Akayleb Evans, CB, Missouri
The Vikings’ desire to improve their secondary makes sense after they allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL last season, but this was a reach in my eyes. Evans tested exceptionally well at the combine with a 6’2”, 197-pound frame and a 9.57 RAS overall. However, the injury concerns are significant as he missed multiple games in 2018, 2019, and 2021 due to various injuries. The considerable time he missed led to his inability to develop consistent body control and anticipation in coverage. He doesn’t play with the physicality you would hope for his ideal measurables. Evans has traits to bank on as a developmental cornerback, but I saw him as more of a fifth or sixth-round prospect.
Round: 5 Pick: 165 / Esezi Otomewo, DE, Minnesota
The Vikings will have had plenty of opportunities to watch Otomewo, much more than I have, so I’ll put a big disclaimer on this evaluation. However, this is a confusing choice for me. Otomewo is 6’6”, and the hit rate for defensive ends that high-cut is not significant. Otomewo also ran a 5.01-second 40-yard dash and had a 1.71 10-yard split – he lacks the acceleration off the line of scrimmage to be a consistent speed rusher in the NFL. Otomewo’s collegiate production never lived up to his physical attributes, and I don’t see that changing in the NFL with his lack of range and limited pass-rushing tools.
Round: 5 Pick: 169 / Ty Chandler, RB, North Carolina
After spending his first four seasons in a timeshare at Tennessee, Chandler transferred to North Carolina and put up career-high numbers across the board. After those five seasons, Chandler is a tad older as a prospect which is never ideal for a running back – he turns 24 years old this week. Chandler’s electric 4.38 speed shows in everything he does on the football field, but he lacks natural creativity as a runner and isn’t powerful enough to fight through tackles for extra yardage. His agility is also lacking with a 7.4-second 3-cone drill. Despite being limited, his speed can earn him playing time in a part-time role for Minnesota.
New #Vikings RB Ty Chandler last season: 197 touches, 1308 yards from scrimmage, 14 touchdowns.
4.38 speed 🔥 pic.twitter.com/VSRVQrvaF8
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) April 30, 2022
Round: 6 Pick: 184 / Vederian Lowe, OT, Illinois
Vederian Lowe started a school-record 52 games for Illinois, the school that gave him his only Power Five offer as a former three-star recruit. Lowe’s experience as a starting left tackle in a zone-based scheme for the Illini makes him a logical fit for the Vikings as a potential swing tackle. Some analysts have raved about his arm length at 35 3/8”, and he has strong hands and agile feet. Lowe’s pad level can improve, and his range is just average. Still, there are traits to be excited about as a developmental swing tackle, and his durability and maturity are impressive.
Round: 6 Pick: 191 / Jalen Nailor, WR, Michigan State
Nailor is nicknamed “Speedy,” according to Wikipedia. Still, his 54th percentile 4.5-second 40-yard dash left a bit to be desired, especially given his 5’11”, 186-pound frame, but the former state champion sprinter has impressive open-field acceleration. Minnesota wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell reportedly “pounded the table” for Nailor. His fluid route-running and impressive acceleration can be put to good use when he’s on the field, but his durability has been questionable, and his lack of hand strength and small frame are drawbacks.
Round: 7 Pick: 227 / Nick Muse, TE, South Carolina
The Vikings’ tight end depth is relatively limited beyond Irv Smith Jr., who is recovering from an ACL tear, after Tyler Conklin signed with the Jets in free agency. Muse tested as a great all-around athlete with an 8.80 RAS, and he combines that athleticism with a powerful 6’4”, 258-pound frame that allows him to be a strong point-of-attack blocker. Muse was never an overly productive receiver at South Carolina, but he has some upside as a move blocker for the Vikings’ two-tight end looks.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) May 1, 2022