Vikings NFL mock draft analysis: Dane Brugler predicts a trade up for their QB of the future

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Vikings NFL mock draft analysis: Dane Brugler predicts a trade up for their QB of the future

One week remains. The speculation will end and, at long last, the 2024 NFL Draft will begin.

The Minnesota Vikings have the potential to sway the course of the first round. Swing for a quarterback and all of the ensuing dominoes will fall differently.

Will Minnesota make that type of move? It’s possible. Dane Brugler, The Athletic’s draft expert, thinks so. He filled out his seven-round mock draft Wednesday and proposed a simulated Vikings trade to leap up the draft board.

What do we think of that move and Brugler’s seven other picks?

Vikings picks in Brugler’s mock draft

Round Pick Player Pos. School



J.J. McCarthy




DeWayne Carter




Mason McCormick




Qwan’tez Stiggers




Eric Watts




Ainias Smith




Tyrice Knight




Dylan McMahon


Here are some thoughts.



Dane Brugler’s 7-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Predicting all 257 picks

No. 4: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Brugler projects the Vikings will swing for a quarterback. The trade is sensible. It involves Nos. 11 and 23 and a third-rounder. Not discarding a future first-rounder would be a big win for the team’s long-term needs. This would be a rational risk. McCarthy is not a no-brainer prospect, but neither is Drake Maye nor any other option. The Michigan product is accurate, possesses solid mechanics and sees the field fairly well. He’s probably not a transformative option in the Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen vein, but if he ends up becoming a B-plus quarterback on a rookie deal, you’ll have a chance at yearly contention with elite surrounding talent and coaching.

No. 108: DeWayne Carter, DT, Duke

The Vikings have drafted four late-round defensive tackles in the last five years: Jaquelin Roy, Esezi Otomewo, James Lynch and Armon Watts. While Roy may have some untapped upside, the others are/were mostly depth options at best. And while Carter has some likable traits — he was a three-time team captain and member of the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee — he fits in that same developmental vein. This is the case for most fourth-round picks, but it would still leave a massive void in the spine of Brian Flores’ defense.

No. 129: Mason McCormick, G, South Dakota State

An under-discussed area of need for the Vikings is the offensive line. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw and right tackle Brian O’Neill are cornerstones, but the interior leaves a lot to be desired. Center Garrett Bradbury played admirably last year, and right guard Ed Ingram showed signs of improvement. Minnesota’s coaching staff believes strongly in potential starting left guard Blake Brandel, but is this really a group to feel over the moon about? Selecting a fourth-round guard is a solid move, and Brugler raves about McCormick’s force in the run game. His selection, however, would not definitively answer the broader questions about the interior of the Vikings’ line.

No. 157: Qwan’tez Stiggers, CB, CFL

This selection makes all the sense in the world. Stiggers’ picture would fit underneath the “overcoming adversity” phrase in an encyclopedia. His father passed away after a tragic car accident, and Stiggers left school to work at DoorDash, Instacart and Blue Beacon truck wash to support his family. Eventually, he returned to football, found an opportunity in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts and became the league’s most outstanding rookie. He has the kind of size and makeup Flores would bet on. This one is easy to envision happening.



From unknown to underdog: Qwan’tez Stiggers’ storybook rise as an NFL Draft prospect

No. 167: Eric Watts, Edge, UConn

Here’s a thought experiment: Would you rather take a filled-out, productive player with a fifth-round pick, or would you prefer an underdeveloped player with room to grow? Watts is in the latter category. Brugler called him “straight out of NFL central casting with his size, length and build.” Because the Vikings beefed up their edge-rusher room (Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jihad Ward), this selection feels like a nice fit.

No. 177: Ainias Smith, WR, Texas A&M

Smith finished second behind Mike Evans on Texas A&M’s all-time receiving yards list. Pair that productivity with his punt-returning prowess, and the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder feels like a younger version of Brandon Powell. The Vikings could still use a bigger-bodied option to replace K.J. Osborn and assist in the run-blocking phase, but Trent Sherfield and N’Keal Harry could also fit that role. Plug Smith into one of the best receiver rooms in the NFL (with one of the best coaches in Keenan McCardell), and Smith could become a dangerous option alongside Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison.

No. 230: Tyrice Knight, LB, UTEP

Why not give Flores a heat check on another late-round linebacker? Last year, the Vikings landed Ivan Pace Jr. as an undrafted option. He was an undersized, helter-skelter linebacker who had no problem ramming into anything or everything. His instincts helped him produce in college at Cincinnati, and the production translated immediately. Knight is bigger, but he was similarly productive at UTEP. He led the FBS in solo tackles (84) and ranked fourth in the country in total tackles per game (11.7) in 2023. Flores loves speed at the second level, and Knight could provide that — and lend a hand on Matt Daniels’ special teams unit.

No. 232: Dylan McMahon, C, NC State

It would not surprise me to see the Vikings use one of their later-round picks on a running back, kicker or punter. They might also double down on the edge-rusher spot or cornerback. McMahon fits the interior offensive line depth profile. He played both guard spots and center in college. He also matches the Vikings’ zone-blocking system. The Vikings lost Austin Schlottmann and Chris Reed, and although they brought in Dan Feeney, they could benefit from an experienced fifth-year senior like McMahon.

(Photo of J.J. McCarthy: Rick Osentoski / USA Today)