Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network authored a mock draft on Easter, and the Minnesota Vikings skip over offensive and defensive line needs. Most Vikings faithful can overlook this development as the team would be embracing the best player available mindset rather than plug-and-playing an offensive lineman solely because of roster need.
General Manager Rick Spielman still has about $7.5 million in cap space, so the organization could sign an offensive lineman at any minute. Otherwise, Spielman would be faced with drafting a guard or tackle from the 3rd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft and ask that man to start immediately. Too, the spooky plan could embrace an “as-is” approach — meaning some combination of Rashod Hill, Mason Cole, Dakota Dozier, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, Oli Udoh, and Brian O’Neill would be the “solution” for 2021. And that’s frightening due to the heinous nature of the team’s pass protection in 2021.
But Cummings says roster need be damned and sends Alabama wideout Jaylen Waddle to the Vikings.
“This is a classic case of best-player-available. It may not be entirely popular because the Vikings do have more pressing needs. They still desperately need more pressure along the edge, and they also need to improve their offensive line. However, if Jaylen Waddle were to fall, he’d provide the Vikings with one of the best, if not the best, receiving corps in the league. With Waddle, Adam Thielen, and Justin Jefferson, the Vikings would give defenses fits. Waddle, in particular, would give Minnesota a deep threat, as well as a quick separator and elite RAC threat in the short-range to potentially alleviate some pressure from Kirk Cousins’ shoulders.“
Assuming Waddle could live up to merely half of the hype surrounding his aura, the Vikings receiving corps would be lethal. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Jaylen Waddle, and Irv Smith Jr. would require ample attention from opposing secondaries each and every Sunday.
And that doesn’t even consider Dalvin Cook’s ability to soften up a defense on the ground.
Notably in Cummings’ mock, Minnesota passes on (LB) Micah Parsons and (OT) Christian Darrisaw. Parsons flirts with a Top 5 prospect candidacy in the entire draft while Darrisaw could start immediately for the Vikings out of necessity.
On Waddle, he is a 2020 National Champion, a 2019 First-Team All-SEC honoree, and a 2020 Second-Team All-SEC personality.
Jordan Reid, a Viking fan from The Draft Network, scouts Waddle like this:
“Jaylen Waddle is a dynamic wideout that’s spent time on the outside, in the slot, and periodically as a chess piece in the backfield. Possessing a unique skill set, he’s a smaller wideout that contains a well diverse skill set. With notches of speed that most defenders are incapable of reaching, he plays the game with a jetpack. The former Crimson Tide wideout makes his surroundings look as if they’re moving in slow motion compared to his high level controlled speed. Containing consistent hands, he also has a wide catch radius that enables him to attack the ball at its apex when entering his target range. A player that can be used as an ultimate decoy with various types of motions, he forces defenses to always account for where he is on the field no matter where he aligns.“
In the 3rd Round of Cummings Easter predictions, the Vikings select Liam Eichenberg from Notre Dame and Rashad Weaver from Pittsburgh.