Needless to say, the 2021 draft is a very important one for the Minnesota Vikings. They have a boatload of picks at their disposal, and with Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer both being in need of a successful 2021 campaign, that could be reason enough to make a big swing and move around in the draft. However, even if they sit pat, Spielman could make massive moves from the 14th pick. Nothing is certain. With so many needs all over the field, the Vikings can go in numerous directions. So, that’s what I decided to do. Using PFF’s mock draft simulator, I went through a bunch of different scenario’s that may be available to the Vikings come the actual draft.
Trade quantity for quality
We all know the Vikings need to fix their offensive line going into this season. Riley Reiff performed well enough at left tackle this season, but his consistency is definitely a question. Another issue revolves around his money situation. Currently, he holds a nearly $14 million cap hit, and Minnesota could save nearly $12 million of precious cap space by cutting him.
If the Vikings want to go all in to fix their line, one route could be a trade up to snag Penei Sewell. He looks like the clear number one tackle in this draft, and the Vikings could turn their quantity of draft picks into quality by making this move.
The two teams that make the most sense to make the move with are Miami and Cincinnati. That said, I think Cincinnati at number five is the team to make this move with. Miami seems to have their eyes on taking a wide receiver, as Todd McShay predicted in his latest mock draft, and it would make sense to give Tua a target that he’s familiar with, Devonta Smith.
In the mock draft that I did for this, I had Minnesota trading the 14th pick as well as their own fourth rounder and the Bears’ fourth rounder. The question here is whether or not it’s worth it to trade that much draft capital for a top tier tackle. The argument for it lies in this stat:
Yes, the one time since 2014 that the Vikings approached being average in pass blocking instead of just god-awful, they went to the NFC Championship game.
Another option would be using their 14th pick on someone like Rashawn Slater or Christian Darrisaw, and then trading back into the first round and solidifying the line further by taking a guard. Alijah Vera-Tucker played a lot of tackle this season, but in years past, he has also been used on the inside at guard. If the Vikings do pick Slater or Darrisaw at 14, it is not unreasonable to trade a combination of later picks to land another solid lineman like Vera-Tucker or Wyatt Davis.
Watch as Jaylen Waddle falls
Jaylen Waddle was one of the most dynamic slot receivers in college football, but his 2020 year was cut short due to an ankle fracture. He came back for the national title game, but he clearly played through pain. Teams could be cautious about picking him due to his injury, but they might also just prioritize other players. We saw the same thing happen with Justin Jefferson last year. He played the majority of his college snaps in the slot, so teams did not see him as a priority. The same could happen to Waddle.
Here’s the scenario:
Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance are off the board already. We know why Lawrence and Fields would be gone, but any three of Atlanta, Denver, and Carolina could also decide that they need to get a quarterback in this draft. Not only that, but it’ll be very hard for other teams to pass on some of these edge rushers and offensive tackles that teams could miss out on later. These players include the aforementioned Slater and Darrisaw, but also Kwity Paye, Gregory Rousseau, and Jaysen Oweh.
Then, you throw in the other great receivers in this draft like Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, Kyle Pitts (tight end, but one of the best receiving tight ends we’ve seen coming out of college), and Rashod Bateman, and it seems very possible that he will be on the board when the Vikings make their pick. Imagine a wide receiver group of Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and then an extremely quick and explosive Waddle in the slot. It might not be the most pressing need, but it’s certainly tempting. Could the Vikings strike gold once again with a first round wide receiver?
The rich become richer
We all need to keep one note in mind going into this draft. There are a lot of playoff teams with very old quarterbacks. By my count there are at least four teams (Bucs, Saints, Colts, Steelers) going into this offseason with questions about the future of their veteran QBs. That doesn’t even include teams like New England, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Washington who may just be looking at a change.
If Trey Lance and/or Mac Jones begin falling towards the middle of the first round, one of these teams below Minnesota may get an itchy trigger finger and decide to make a big move towards one of these guys. In the mock draft that I did for this scenario, New Orleans traded me (playing as Minnesota) their first and second round picks (in this case numbers 29 and 61) for 14. This allowed New Orleans to pick Trey Lance, and it gave me the opportunity to take Vera-Tucker at 29 and DE Joseph Ossai at 61. Who knows if this will be who is available, but I would love these two picks for the Vikings.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to make moves in mock drafts where there are no consequences. You’re not actually on the clock, and if things go disastrously, you can start over and do it again. That said, trading down makes the most sense to me. I don’t see there being a ton of value (at least for Minnesota’s needs) at 14. Here’s the reasoning. I really do think the wide receivers will be the ones to fall this year. With Cincinnati, Miami, LA Chargers, and New York all desperately needing to do a better job of protecting their young quarterbacks, tackles should be a priority for these teams. That could thin out the position by the time Minnesota is on the clock, so it might not be worth it to take a guy that may be available later on.
As for the defensive line, I also see there being more value later on. At 14, the likely targets might be Gregory Rousseau, Christian Barmore, or Jayson Oweh. I don’t have a ton of faith that 1) these guys will be that far superior to others in the draft or 2) that at least one won’t be available later on. Even if they aren’t available, there will be others like Carlos Basham Jr. and Azeez Ojulari. I’d take one of those two and an extra Day Two pick in a heartbeat. Will it actually happen? Who knows. That’s why draft talk is so fun.