5 Draft Predictions for the Minnesota Vikings in the 2021 NFL Draft
Note: This article originally appeared on our flagship site, VikingsTerritory.com.
The following synopsis of events for the Minnesota Vikings in 2021 NFL Draft is predictive, not a list of what “should” happen.
Teams like the Detroit Lions are owners of a litany of depth chart needs. The Vikings are not one of those franchises. Realistically, Minnesota needs two starting offensive linemen and arguably one EDGE rusher between now and September — and that’s about it. Via free agency and otherwise, the roster is in fairly good shape.
So, here are VikingsTerritory‘s formal predictions of what will happen this weekend.
1. The Vikings Trade Back from the 14th Pick
In order to find a starting EDGE rusher and one or two startable offensive linemen, assets must be stockpiled. While general manager Rick Spielman may be giddy about whoever falls to him at #14, the allure is too grand to splash back in the 2nd Round. The “easiest” way to do so is to trade the 14th pick to a thirsty team. That might be the Baltimore Ravens — a team that Minnesota has bartered with three times in the last two years. The Ravens have two 1st-Round selections toward the end of the round. Perhaps the Vikings will scoop one or both of them.
Based on Spielman’s draft credo, he is more likely to trade down than to trade up — despite any smoke that you will see in the next 24 hours.
Bet on a trade-back.
2. An EDGE Rusher Will be the First Pick of the Event for MIN
Indeed, the offensive line is a greater roster need; that is undebatable.
But a keynote pass rush is a Mike Zimmer thing. For the longest time, Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen performed the duties of a fearsome pass-rushing duo. Those days are kaput. Per the Zimmer standard, Hunter-Weatherly probably isn’t sexy enough to do the deed. With 2020’s abysmal pass rush fresh in Zimmer’s hippocampus, he’s going to fix it beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Spielman can find an offensive lineman later on. Kwity Paye, Jaelan Phillips, Azeez Ojulari, or Gregory Rousseau will be there for the taking after Spielman trades back.
3. OL Will Be One of the First 3 Picks
Spielman will not ignore the offensive line — he never does. Sometimes it feels like he doesn’t “care” about the offensive trenches. Yet, in reality, he has drafted more offensive linemen in the 2nd Round or higher during the last three drafts than any other human on the planet. That’s called: Brian O’Neill, Garrett Bradbury, and Ezra Cleveland.
Truth be told, Spielman is likely sick of spending such high draft capital on offensive linemen when the rest of the league normally checks stuff of the OL to-do list in later rounds. The Vikings OL maladies really began when Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff were not the complete fix-all after their 2017 addition to the team.
Nevertheless, Spielman will take an offensive trenchman early-ish. It will be someone like Ben Cleveland, Walker Little, or Jalen Mayfield.
4. Spielman Chooses a QB Before the 4th Round
Here’s a breadcrumb: The Vikings do not have a QB2 on the roster right now. Nate Stanley and Jake Browning are commodities on the depth chart, but neither man is a QB2 at the moment. Typically at this point on the calendar, Spielman and Zimmer have a Sean Mannion or Trevor Siemian all ready to go for the upcoming season.
But not in 2021. This should be construed as a massive clue that Spielman will nominate the team’s QB2 in this draft. And, it will transpire in Rounds 1-3.
My, oh my, if Justin Fields or Trey Lance tumble down the board — Spielman will make the most consequential decision of his Minnesota tenure. Plan for life after Kirk Cousins or stay the course.
In any event, the Vikings will select Kellen Mond, Kyle Trask, or Davis Mills to serve as the backup quarterback this September.
5. At Least 4 Trades Will Be Made
This one is easy. “Trader Rick” is his name — and that is for good reason. Each April, Spielman trades like a maniac during the draft. This year is no different. Particularly on Saturday, the Vikings will light up your Twitter feed with obscure trades. Look for at least four.
Hell, in 2019 (not long ago), Spielman pulled off six of them during the draft. It’s a reasonable assumption that he simply likes the process of wheeling and dealing. Call it a hobby.