‘Sporting News’ Offers Extremely High Praise for Vikings in 2021 NFL Draft

Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Iowa senior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette grabs his ankle after doing a celebratory flip in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against Wisconsin on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. 20201212 Iowawisconsin

To recap, the Minnesota Vikings unearthed these 11 men from the 2021 NFL Draft.

  • Virginia Tech — OT Christian Darrisaw
  • Texas A&M — QB Kellen Mond
  • North Carolina — LB Chazz Surratt
  • Ohio State — G Wyatt Davis
  • Pittsburgh — DE Patrick Jones II
  • Iowa State — RB Kene Nwangwu
  • California — S Camryn Bynum
  • Florida State — EDGE Janarius Robinson
  • Iowa — WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette
  • Central Missouri — TE Zach Davidson
  • Pittsburgh — DT Jalen Twyman

And The Sporting News loved it.

The website/publication authored 1-thru-32 rankings of each team’s respective draft haul. At the very top of the list sits the Miami Dolphins. Sporting News is enamored with Miami’s haul, showcased with picks like Jaylen Waddle (WR), Jaelan Phillips (EDGE), and Liam Eichenberg (OL), The draft class for the Dolphins was so prestigious that Sporting News tossed an ‘A’ grade in Miami’s direction — a grade given to just five franchises (Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, New York Jets).

The Vikings were one of the organizations to receive an ‘A,’ In fact, per this analysis, general manager Rick Spielman’s draft class was the second-best in the NFL, only bested by Miami. Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News explained his Vikings zest like this:

Count on GM Rick Spielman to come through in both rebuilding and reloading mode with a boatload of picks. Darrisaw and Davis should start on the left side of their offensive line. Former college teammates Jones and Twyman were absolute steals ideal for two key front-four spots. Mond is a savvy stash behind Kirk Cousins. Surratt is a fine contingency for Anthony Barr. Bynum could start at safety soon. They also managed to add good offensive skill depth everywhere.

Iyer seemingly enjoyed everything about the Vikings draft weekend. Minnesota circumvented a draft that was sans a 2nd-Round pick after Yannick Ngakoue was acquired in the late summer of 2020 for Spielman’s treasured 2nd-Rounder in the 2021 draft. Through a series of deals, Minnesota wound up with four 3rd-Round choices, maximizing the capital into Mond, Surratt, Davis, and Jones II.

Mond will act as a developmental, pivot-like option to current quarterback Kirk Cousins should the Vikings go in an alternative direction after the 2021 season. Surratt is probably a life-after-Anthony-Barr audition candidate. Davis will start in September while Jones II will battle Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum for RDE snaps in training camp.

As for the 1st Round, well, Spielman pulled of a for-now herculean deal to fall back nine spots, securing a slew of three players in Darrisaw, Mond, and Davis as a direct result of the transaction. Darrisaw will certifiably be asked to start in Week 1 due to Riley Reiff’s exodus to the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Virginia Tech alumnus pans out, he will become the first consistently steady left tackle that Minnesota has drafted since Bryant McKinnie in the 2000s.

The later rounds produced project-like players, although Smith-Marsette and Twyman are considered disregarded gems by various pundits.

The next noteworthy rung on the offseason ladder is climbed in about one week. The NFL releases the full 2021 schedule, highlighted by 17 games for the first time. Per 2020 wins and losses, Minnesota has the fifth-most difficult schedule.