Fasten your seatbelt as a Minnesota Vikings zealot because mock drafts are zooming the internet fast and furiously.
The latest was authored by NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah on Tuesday. Nothing too earth-shattering shook his mock draft. The usual suspects fell into place, notably with Justin Fields heading to the Atlanta Falcons – for an apparent replacement of long-time quarterback, Matt Ryan.
Ironically, the only “woah” moment inside his draft write-up directly correlated to the Vikings. Wide receiver De’Vonta Smith of the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide plunged to Minnesota at No. 14. And evidently – the Vikings could not resist in Jeremiah’s make-believe world.
On Smith, Jeremiah surmised:
“The Vikings have holes to fill on defense, but they could give Kirk Cousins a heck of a trio by adding Smith to a receiving corps that already includes Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.”
While Smith-to-Vikings is super sexy, it does little to address the existing holes on the Vikings roster – offensive and defensive lines. Perhaps the theory is that 1,000 yards apiece to Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and De’Vonta Smith will completely mask Minnesota’s woes in the trenches. But that is not smart thinking. Maybe Jeremiah foresees the Vikings fixing the offensive and defensive lines with its Dollar General budget in free agency?
In any event, Smith joining the Vikings would be ultra-intriguing, and here’s why.
An Embarrassment of Riches
News flash: The Vikings do not need a WR1-like pass-catcher. The origination has two of those in Jefferson and Thielen. Too, third-year tight end Irv Smith Jr. figures to take a sizable next step in his career development. De’Vonta Smith’s addition would foreshadow many target-needy mouths to feed inside of an offense that is blatantly a run-first system.
But the Dallas Cowboys did it in 2020. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb thrust Dak Prescott to herculean stats before Prescott was lost for the season to injury.
No Vikings fan would vomit at the selection of Smith – it’sfantasy football stuff galore. Instantly, Minnesota would own the NFL’s best wide-receiving corps or damn close to it. Jefferson and Smith would live on rookie-deals while Thielen earned the big bucks – at least for a couple of more seasons. What’s more, Thielen may become expendable in this Smith-to-Vikings situation, which will spook many Thielen lovers.
Life After Thielen
There is no evidence to suggest that the Vikings need a Thielencontingency plan. Nor has the team whispered anything about trading the 30-year-old.
Yet, a selection of Smith vividly displays a pathway to life after Thielen – whenever that may be. Flash forward 4-5 years from now, and there is no feasible method to financially accommodate all three receivers: Jefferson, Thielen, and Smith. In theory, Thielen could take a small end-of-career deal, but that is way toofar down the road to speculate.
In a mini way, Thielen becomes less important with De’VontaSmith on the Vikings roster. In fact, he would be assigned a “trade bait” label as he’d earn so much more salary than Jefferson and Smith combined. Are you prepared to listen to trade-Thielen chatter? What about stomaching him on another NFL team? Those unheard-ofs become reality with Smith on the team.
No Excuses for Cousins
Kirk Cousins would love Smith’s existence as WR3 on the field. Write that down – it is irrefutable. It would, by far, surpass any amount of weaponry that Cousins has ever had at his disposal – from Michigan State to Washington to Minnesota.
Jefferson-Thielen-Smith has an Olympic sizzle to it. All excuses surrounding “is Cousins good or isn’t he” would be muted. With Dalvin Cook behind him and those three to the sides and front, Cousins would be required to throw for 4,500 passing yards and 45 touchdowns. It’s just too much firepower to leave idle.
However, Cousins might enjoy a ready-on-day-one offensive lineman more so than another young toy that catches passes. He is often besieged by defenders as the Vikings offensive line has been shoddy for about 10 years (the pass-blocking portion). Finally locking down the trenches upfront might make Cousins more prolific instead of the usual not-good pass protection plus Jefferson-Thielen-Smith.
Lastly, Mike Zimmer’s ordinarily run-happy offense would mandate change – immediately. A team cannot have three Corvettes on the field for the purposes of staying below the speed limit.
Smith-to-Minnesota would necessitate a fundamental change in offensive philosophy – one in which new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak allows Cousins to throw the ball all the damn time