NFL News and Rumors

Vikings Pick Adam Thielen Replacement in ESPN's Early 2023 Mock Draft

Devon Platana
The Minnesota Vikings are projected to pick WR Adam Thielen's replacement in ESPN's early 2023 NFL mock draft.
The Minnesota Vikings are projected to pick WR Adam Thielen's replacement in ESPN's early 2023 NFL mock draft. / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen has been a Minnesota Vikings fan favorite ever since he went undrafted in 2013. However, he's turning 32 this August and even though that isn't "old," he's no longer in his prime, so it might be wise if the Vikings started thinking about a replacement.

One way that the Vikings can find a Thielen replacement is through the 2023 NFL Draft. Though it's 10 months away, ESPN has already released an early mock draft, with analyst Matt Miller having Minnesota picking North Carolina WR Josh Downs at the No. 21 spot.

Vikings 2023 Mock Draft

The Vikings already have Justin Jefferson as their top wideout, but they need more depth beyond him if Thielen continues to decline. Downs offers much more upside than players already on the roster, such as K.J. Osborn and Albert Wilson.

He isn't the biggest player (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), but Downs can do his fair share of damage on the gridiron. Burning secondaries with his speed last fall (4.47-second 40-yard dash time), the 20-year-old racked up 1,335 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 101 receptions as a Tar Heels sophomore.

Downs' reception total led the ACC in 2021, also ranking fourth in receiving touchdowns and fifth in total punt return yards (156). Furthermore, his 1,335 receiving yards ranked 10th-best across the nation as a whole.

A three-headed monster with Thielen, Jefferson and Downs could terrorize secondaries in 2023. If the Vikings have a chance to draft the North Carolina product, they shouldn't hesitate.

The 2023 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 23, 2023 at Union Station in Kansas City, MO.

dark. SIGN UP NOW. Up to $1,000 in Free Bets if you don't win your first bet!

Devon Platana is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Devon Platana also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username PepeSilvia0. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.