Vikings need to attack the draft with best player available philosophy


CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama

It’s that time of year again where mock drafts are taking over the NFL world and one mock in particular caused quite a stir up on Vikings Twitter on Tuesday. 

NFL Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah released his second mock draft ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft and had the Vikings selecting Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Here is what Jeremiah had to say on the selection. 

“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.” 

Selecting a wide receiver with the 14th overall pick came as a surprise to some, as the position might not be the most pressing need on the team’s roster. However, if the Vikings decide to make a selection at 14 instead of trade back, they must go after the best player available.

It should be noted that Thielen isn't getting any younger and the team has little depth at the position behind him and Jefferson. Thielen will be playing as a 31-year-old in 2021, so the wide receiver position is more of a need than some might realize. The good news for Vikings fan is the amount of depth in the 2021 class might be even stronger than the 2020 class, meaning the position could be addressed on day two or three as well.  

Many fans want the Vikings to sure up their offensive line with this draft, something they’ve been calling for since the NFC Championship meltdown in Philadelphia. The interior of the offensive line has been one of the weaker units rostered since Cousins arrived in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings should use high draft capital to address the interior. 

The top two interior offensive line prospects in this class are Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC and Wyatt Davis from Ohio State. Both players are projected to go later on day one or even early on day two, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Vikings to reach on the position. 

If this is the biggest area of concern for the front office, then a trade back acquiring picks would make the most sense. Rick Spielman has shown over the years that he has no problem sliding back in the draft and that would make the most sense if they do indeed go after a guard in round one. 

Drafting a tackle would make more sense with the 14th overall pick, considering good play at the tackle position is more critical than at guard. On top of that, Riley Reiff’s future with the team is still up in the air, so getting an athletic tackle to fit the outside zone scheme could be beneficial. 

There is still a ways to go before we reach draft night and a lot of things can change between now and then. Free agency doesn’t start until March 17, so the Vikings could address some key areas that way before the draft kicks off in late April.

Best player available should be the philosophy every year, but this year in particular the Vikings need to be careful. Instead of reaching for a guard on day one it might make more sense to find a veteran guard on a cheap deal and attack defensive depth throughout the draft. The Vikings have several key areas for concern and the guard spot should be somewhere in the middle of the pack, not something that gets addressed on day one of the draft.

If it were up to me the players listed below are all the prospects I would take at 14 if available. I know most of these names will be off the board by then, but crazier things have happened on draft night. 

Trevor Lawrence 

Penei Sewell 

Justin Fields 

Jaylen Waddle 

Ja’Marr Chase 

Kyle Pitts 

Christian Darrisaw 

Zach Wilson 

DeVonta Smith 

Patrick Surtain II 

Rashawn Slater

Kwity Paye 

Caleb Farley 

That’s 13 players that are expected to be top 20 picks, meaning the Vikings might have a chance on at least one of them. Personally, I’d say to trade back if none of these names are available and go after a player like Chrstian Barmore to sure up the defensive line. 

The offensive line wasn’t great in 2020 but the defensive line was the worst we’ve seen in the Mike Zimmer era. Getting Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce back will help but getting a talented three-technique would also be a big boost to the defense. The team has several needs ahead of the start of free agency and the draft, but those needs shouldn't be forced on draft night. If a star player falls into their laps at 14 don't be surprised when the Vikings take that player over an interior offensive lineman.

Player profiles will start to be released as we get closer to the draft, so stay tuned for more draft content on KFAN.com.