LT Linked to Vikings Ranked Stunningly Low on New Top 150 Big Board
If you read a mock draft in the next two days, a person named Kwity Paye, Alijah-Vera Tucker, Jaelan Phillips, Rashawn Slater, Micah Parsons, or Trey Lance will likely be the Minnesota Vikings selection with the 14th pick.
Out in full force, most of these mock drafts do not detail the Vikings trading back in the draft. And, that is fair. It is not an elementary exercise to forecast trades — especially when each NFL team is capable of moving and shaking on draft night. Write this down, though: The Vikings, in all likelihood, will trade out of their 14th pick, securing a later-in-1st-Round selection plus a 2nd-Rounder or an even-later 1st-Rounder. It’s general manager Rick Spielman’s modus operandi and will probably be on display this Thursday night.
The other popular name linked to the Vikings is Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech. He’s a day-one starter at left tackle. Surprise, surprise — Minnesota needs one of those after Riley Reiff skipped town to join the Cincinnati Bengals about six weeks ago. In fairness, 2020 rookie Ezra Cleveland could start at left tackle, but it is unclear if the Vikings have the Boise State alumnus pegged more so as a guard or tackle.
So, Darrisaw in purple and gold clothes for the next 5+ years makes sense. Based on the social media buzz, Vikings fans are mostly on board with the Hokie.
But no so fast — if you hold Daniel Jeremiah from NFL.com in high regard, that is. Jeremiah ranks Darrisaw as the 38th-best player in the 2021 NFL Draft class — a far departure from the Vikings 14th pick. The full full, ranked prospect list can be read here.
Jeremiah’s thoughts on Darrisaw:
“Darrisaw was a solid, reliable starter at left tackle during his career with the Hokies. He has ideal size, length and balance. In the passing game, he has average foot quickness in his set but can bend his knees and plays with a firm base. He has a sharp two-hand punch and generally keeps defenders away from his chest. He plays with excellent awareness. He uses his upper-body strength to torque and turn defenders in the run game. He takes good angles to the second level, where he’s able to position and wall off linebackers. He will have some trouble adjusting in space because of his average change-of-direction skills. I view Darrisaw as a player who’ll be starting at right tackle very early in his NFL career.“
A couple of things here. Foremost, the Vikings don’t need a right tackle. Brian O’Neill, a player entering his fourth season this September, fills the role admirably. To accommodate Darrisaw, the Vikings would have to explore moving O’Neill to Kirk Cousins’ blindside [if Jeremiah is to be trusted].
What’s more, if Darrisaw is indeed classified as the 38th-best player in the draft, the Vikings would be wise to trade out of their 14th spot and accumulate more high-round draft capital. Splurging for Darrisaw is unnecessary if Jeremiah’s musings are accurate.
This also emboldens the case for USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker. Jeremiah nominates AVT as the 13th-best overall player in the 2021 class. So, according to NFL.com, Vera-Tucker would blend best player available and team roster need [better than Darrisaw].
Jeremiah’s review of Vera-Tucker is much more glowing than Darrisaw’s:
“Vera-Tucker is one of the safest players in this draft class. He played guard at a very high level in 2019 before producing an outstanding campaign at tackle in 2020. He plays with excellent strength, balance and awareness in pass protection. He is quick out of his stance and has a sharp/quick punch. He can bend and does a good job of staying connected. He will underset at times, allowing defenders on his edge, but he is quick to recover and run them around the pocket. He squats down versus power rushers and quickly stops their charge. In the run game, he can latch, control and create movement on down blocks. He takes excellent angles to the second level and has a good feel on combo blocks. He isn’t the most dynamic athlete, but he’s always under control and rarely in bad position. Overall, I think he has a chance to stick at tackle, but he’s ideally suited to play guard. He is ready to start on Day 1.“
About the only thing that is for certain heading down to the final hours before the draft — the Vikings need some damn offensive linemen.