Chicago Bears' NFC North Rivals: Reviewing the Vikings' 2024 NFL Draft

In our third and final installment of reviewing NFC North rivals after the 2024 NFL Draft, we take look at what the Minnesota Vikings did in this year's draft.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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After winning the NFC North in 2022, the Minnesota Vikings crashed down and finished at 7-10 last season. Their starter, Kirk Cousins, ruptured his Achilles tendon against the Green Bay Packers in Week 8, and the Vikings never recovered from it. They stumbled to a 3-6 finish as they shuffled through backup quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullins, and rookie Jaren Hall.

This off-season, Cousins signed a massive contract with the Atlanta Falcons, and drafting a quarterback became a number one priority for the Vikings this off-season. However, they did sign Sam Darnold to be their starting QB in 2024 until the rookie quarterback was ready to take over as the starter.

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Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Bears general manager Ryan Poles became director general with their respective teams about the same time. Poles was even a finalist for their job. Both men are forever connected as they are in the same division. With the Lions and the Packers making deep playoff runs, their task is keeping up with both of them and avoiding the NFC North basement in 2024.

In his first draft in 2022, Adofo-Mensah traded the 12th and 46th pick to the Detroit Lions, acquiring 32nd, 34th, and 66th pick in return. They took Georgia safety Lewis Cine in the first round. His rookie season was cut short when he suffered a compound fracture injury to his lower leg in Week 4, ending his rookie season. This past season was not any better for him as he only had 10 defensive snaps while having 84 snaps on special teams. At this rate, Cine might not make the team before the season begins.

His other selections from the 2022 class are cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., guard Ed Ingram, linebacker Brian Asamoah, cornerback Akayleb Evans, defensive end Esezi Otomewo, running back Ty Chandler, offensive tackle Vederian Lowe, wide receiver Jalen Nailor and tight end Nick Muse. Ingram and Evans have become starters, while Chandler could take more actions this upcoming season.

The 2023 draft class features two USC players(Wide receiver Jordan Addison taken 23rd overall, and cornerback Mehki Blackmon selected 102nd), two LSU players(defensive back Jay Ward taken 134th and defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy taken 141st), quarterback Jaren Hall from BYU(164th), and running back DeWayne McBride from UAB(222nd).

As a rookie, Addison has emerged as a nice complement to Justin Jefferson as a No. 2 receiver while Blackmon also had a strong rookie season and more is expected from him. But their biggest hit was the guy they did not draft. It was linebacker Ivan Pace Jr., who had 102 total tackles in his rookie season. How he went undrafted is beyond anyone's guess, and the Vikings will reap the benefits for years to come.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah aggressively moved up in this year's draft, a totally different approach from his first two years as the GM.

With two first-round picks, they were linked to every quarterback not named Caleb Williams.

They ended up taking JJ McCarthy after moving one spot up from the 11th pick to 10th after making a trade with the New York Jets. They finally got their guy now. Many saw him lead Michigan to an undefeated season, including a win over Ohio State, and both Alabama and Washington in the CFB National Playoffs to become national champions.

McCarthy was one of the most polarizing prospects in this year's draft. He played in a system that did not require him to throw the ball much because of their dominant run game led by Blake Corum and stingy defense. A lot of people were enamored with his potential and predicted he would be a top 5 pick while others did not share the same viewpoints.

When the Bears drafted Rome Odunze at 9, the Vikings had to trade with the New York Jets, moving up one spot from 11 to 10 to finally secure their quarterback of the future. He has the luxury of sitting behind Sam Darnold until he is either injured or plays poorly and the coaching staff has no choice but to insert McCarthy to jump-start the offense. The Vikings are praying he pans out as it could have an impact on whether Justin Jefferson signs a long-term contract with them.

The Vikings were not done. They moved up again from the 23rd pick, the pick they acquired from the Houston Texans to the 17th, trading with the Jacksonville Jaguars and selecting Alabama edge rusher, Dallas Turner. This player was linked to the Bears with their 9th pick in many mock drafts this off-season.

While the fans should be joyous over the selection of Rome Odunze, the fact that Turner ended up with the division rival should not make anyone happy. Turner is younger and ceiling is considered higher than other top edge rushers in this year's draft, Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu. After Will Anderson was drafted by Houston in 2023, Turner did not have as nearly as good of a season last season.

Some say he is a better fit for 3-4 than 4-3 and he does not fit the profile of defensive ends Matt Eberflus usually looks for, which is probablky why the Bears passed on him and decided to give Caleb Williams more weapons to succeed. He could thrive under defensive coordinator Brian Flores as they upgraded their pass rusher following the departure of Danielle Hunter. The Bears' offensive line will be put on notice when they face the Vikings this year.