Ok, so with the first pass, I am still very conflicted. My 2 schools of thought with the draft in 2021 for the Vikings is... 1) We need O-Line help (lol every year). 2) We have to get a pass rush to give our young corners a shorter coverage window.
Now, last year I had addressed the pass rush need to help our young corners in Shrinking the QB's Passing Window which highlighted our signing of Yannick Ngakoue. So when all the pieces were in place, Hunter never came back from his injury, we lost Barr, and Michael Pierce remained resolved on his decision to sit out the COVID season.
In short, that QB passing window never got shortened. And to make matters worse... that second round pick we gave up to get Ngakoue really stings right now with our need to find a Guard to help our interior line + our pass rush.
Which brings us to 2021 and what we need to do with our 1st round pick... so without further delay... here is my breakdown for what might be available the Vikings in my Mock Draft 1.
1) Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence QB - Clemson
- And I don't need to say any more than that... Unless Urban Meyer thinks he knows something we don't... that's the pick for the Jags at #1.
2) Jets: Penei Sewell OL - Oregon
- I don't know who the next QB is going to be on this list. And Darnold has never had the protection he has needed. I think the Jets need a lock at this #2 spot - and Sewell is it. Because here's the deal... if you bring in any rookie QB with the current protection that Darnold has... you'll be in the same spot next year - thinking your QB is a bust, when really its the O-Line.
3) Dolphins (via Hou): Ja'Marr Chase WR - LSU
- A lot of experts have this pick being traded. But too much speculation for me and at this spot, I just love LSU receivers. And an extra weapon for the Tua makes sense for what the Dolphins are building.
4) Falcons: Zach Wilson QB - BYU
- If they don't find a trade for Matt Ryan... I almost like this pick even more. Because look at the history... Mahomes, Brady, Rodgers, all spent time behind great QBs before taking the helm. And I think this would ease the jump from BYU to the NFL. Plus everything I am reading about his athleticism seems very promising - if he can get some extra "no pressure" hours in the film room... This could be a very easy transition for ATL.
5) Bengals: Rashawn Slater OL - Northwestern
- Dove tailing off what I was saying with the Jets pick... same mindset for the Bengals, except that they have the QB with Joe Burrow. Now they need to give him protection. ESPECIALLY coming back from that scary injury, Slater sat out this last year, but seems like the consensus next OL off the board so I'll trust the experts here.
6) Eagles: Jaylen Waddle WR - BAMA
- I have never been a fan of the WRs on Philly, and that was once again highlighted by their decision to go Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson. But I'm not shedding a tear because that was a gift for our purple. Waddle, puts them on the right track here and gives Hurts another target so they can see if he is the real deal going forward.
7) Lions: Devonta Smith WR - BAMA
- One take I really like from CBS writer, Chris Trepasso in his CBS mock draft is that "new GM Brad Holmes was with Jared Goff in LA for years." So while a lot of mocks have the Lions taking Micah Parsons (Penn State LB), I think Holmes is going to try and give Goff as many weapons as he had in LAR, and with the injury problems for the current Lions WR group... this makes sense.
8) Panthers: Kyle Pitts TE - Florida
- When you look around the league, the TE spot can be such a coverage nightmare for Defenses when you get the right one. And Pitts is that guy in this draft. Great pass catching ability, and this is a position that can be a cornerstone in an offense while you look for your franchise QB (Ex. Kittle with the Niners).
9) Broncos: Justin Fields QB - OSU
- It's John Elway... he'll pick a QB and as I said before, outside of Lawrence you don't have a clear pick. Wilson could be good... but this upcoming group... I have no idea. And that's why this move makes sense for Elway and the Broncos. Just another QB to the long list of proof that Elway cannot evaluate QB talent.
10) Cowboys: Micah Parsons LB - Penn State
- Especially if Parsons gets passed on by Carolina... I think he goes here. Once again to steal a take from Chris Trepasso: Vander Esch hasn't been able to stay healthy. So this move here makes a lot of sense to me for the Cowboys.
11) Giants: Kwity Paye DL - Michigan
- I have spent the most time on this pick because I honestly don't know right now. A lot of D-Line on the board and I feel like Gettleman is trying to build out a stronger defense. However, Danny Dimes needs weapons and protection. Based off the best available... I am going for Kwity Paye. They can move him around the D-Line and I think the Giants historically do better when the Defense is at it's best. But if Waddle or Smith fall to this spot, Gettleman would have to help Danny Dimes there and get a WR.
12) 49ers: Patrick Surtain II CB - BAMA
- And gosh, I hope this is the case... Because if Surtain II is there at pick 14, the Vikings are getting him. And truly, Surtain II is great - so I wouldn't hate it. But the Vikings would be back to answering the same needs next year in the draft if he is there (especially with the signing of our new DB coach Karl Scott from BAMA). But back to the Niners... I love this team. Because they already got the pass rush up front and Surtain II will have an easy transition with that short coverage window.
13) Chargers: Christian Darrisaw OL - VT
- They got their QB and unlike Joe Burrow, Herbert survived the season without any season ending injuries and led him to have the historic rookie season that he did. Now they are in a place in the draft to protect their #1 asset.
14) Vikings: Now let's talk Vikings and what they could do with what I think should be available...
Scenario 1: Alijah Vera-Tucker OL - USC
- The reason I would like this move is because I believe it has the best chance of using Ezra Cleveland and Vera-Tucker in our long term plan. Cleveland did well at RG last year but his natural postion is LT, and the reason I say he did well is because our interior line was collapsing! So I think that could be a good fit, but also curious how much better he could be at LT with one year under his belt... Vera-Tucker would not only provide insurance for that plan but also have position flexibility with injuries as he has played both Interior and Exterior. I think this could be a best of both worlds scenario, because if we find Cleveland is better where he's at... Tucker could move into that LT spot. And then going forward we could have the young core of O'Neil, Cleveland, Bradury, and Vera-Tucker.
Vera-Tucker is good in pass blocking, play action, and enough athleticism for run blocking. So I think this is a scenario I would love in round 1.
Scenario 2: Gregory Rosseau EDGE - MIAMI
- Shortening the QB passing window. Injuries prevented us from seeing what that could have looked like in 2020. But with the Corners having a sink or swim kind of year with long coverage downs, they are going to be that much better this upcoming season with a shorter passing window with Hunter and Pierce coming back. And I love the idea of doubling down on this strength and getting a guy like Rosseau to provide even more pressure.
You can line him up in a lot of places, and with what we saw in the playoff game with the Saints in 2020... Zimmer feasted on having Danielle Hunter move in the inside. Rosseau would give us that flexibility and creativity with dialing up blitz packages.
One off scenarios...
QB - Trey Lance - NDSU:
- I do want to move on from Cousins. But not this way. I love the idea of having a QB sit behind a seasoned starter for the first year, but with the extra mobility that we saw from Clint Kubiak's vision last year... as much as I hate to say this... I want to see what he does in 2021. And I am not saying I am a believer... But Kirk was not the problem last year, and with the other pressing needs on the O-Line and D-Line and no second round pick... not the time to gamble on a young QB with this much risk.
CB - Caleb Farley - VT:
- I believe in Dantzler and Gladney. And I think year 2 they make a big jump. If Surtain II is there in our draft position, I will be concerned that we will pick him with his relationship with Karl Scott (his DB coach at BAMA). And I truly think Surtain II will be good. So it wouldn't be a bust. But the bottom line is that, I don't want to be addressing the same D-Line and O-Line needs in the draft in 2022.
So I say, we run with the crew we have - and either shorten the passing window or simply take the built in upgrade of getting Hunter, Pierce, and Barr back - and then go O-Line to give Kirk the time we have yet to give him in the pocket.
- Joey Almars