Vikings Trade Considered One of Draft Night’s Best “Steals”

Jets fans did not have much to smile about as their team lost to the Vikings, 37-17. Sunday, October 21, 2018 Jets

The not-so-secret little secret for the Minnesota Vikings leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft was that general manager Rick Spielman would do some trading. And that trading would probably involve Minnesota’s 14th overall pick.

That hypothesis was correct.

Spielman traded back nine places on the draft’s first night with the New York Jets, accumulating the 23rd, 66th, and 86th picks from New York in exchange for the 14th choice and the 144th pick. The Jets flipped the 14th pick into Alijah Vera-Tucker — a player feverishly associated with the Vikings before draft night — and then traded the 143rd selection to the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Vikings landed Christian Darrisaw (LT), Kellen Mond (QB), and Wyatt Davis (G) from the deal.

Fans — after they “got over” the Justin Fields fascination — loved the haul. And so did Bleacher Report. Alex Ballentine detailed the draft reaches, surprises, and steals for the event in an article from Sunday. He considers the Penei Sewell plunge to Detroit a steal. The other steals included Christian Barmore to the New England Patriots and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to the Cleveland Browns.

The Vikings acquisition of Darrisaw was there, too, for a “steal” designation. Ballentine wrote of Darrisaw to Minnesota:

The Raiders’ unconventional draft board turned out to be a boon for the Minnesota Vikings. It’s hard not to love what general manager Rick Spielman did, and it started with the decision to trade back from No. 14.The Vikings took a gamble by dealing that pick and a fourth-rounder to the New York Jets for No. 23 and two third-rounders. They needed offensive line help and had their pick of all the non-Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater options. The Jets used the pick on Alijah Vera-Tucker, while the Vikes bided their time and wound up with Christian Darrisaw, whom they could have justifiably selected at No. 14. “All I can speak on is we were considering [Darrisaw] strongly at 14 and still able to get him where we got him. That was a great night for us,” Spielman said, per Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. The B/R big board had Darrisaw at No. 18 overall and the No. 4 offensive tackle. Vera-Tucker was 13th overall and the second interior offensive lineman. That’s a negligible difference, and the Vikings ended up getting Wyatt Davis (B/R’s fifth-ranked interior lineman) with one of their additional third-round picks. This was a huge win for Minnesota because it got great value.

So, there you have a glowing endorsement of the Vikings trade with the Jets — without even a mention of Kellen Mond. That’s a nice little QB-of-the-future deal sweetener to an already-promising transaction.

For the first time in arguably a decade, the Vikings will field an offensive line sans tremendous red flags — or a motley crew of maybes. Last year, head coach Mike Zimmer waltzed into the pandemic season, touting plans to start Dakota Dozier at guard. Zimmer did just that — and the outcome was awful. Dozier tallied an embarrassing 44.6 Pro Football Focus grade while his guard-mate, Dru Samia, was worse (33.1 PFF).

On the whole, the performance has been plagued like this:

Therefore, Spielman orchestrating the “steal” deal with the Jets feels like a documented step to finally remedy the dastardly pass protection illustrated above. Darrisaw-Davis-Bradbury-Cleveland-O’Neill is an exciting bunch.

Examine how the Vikings performed via pass protection in 2017 from the aforementioned tweet. They were an average group. Sheer mediocrity.

That team reached the NFC Championship. There is a realistic chance that all these Zimmer Vikings need is an offensive line that is not macabre.