Matt Miller, formerly of Bleacher Report, is one of the most prominent and plugged-in NFL draft analysts in the industry. He left B/R recently to form his own website, The Draft Scout, and dropped his first mock draft of the season last week. It’s a full seven-rounder, and as I was scrolling through the Vikings’ selections, a number of them stood out to me.
So let’s go over them here and I’ll give my takeaways at the end.
First, here are the rules Miller used when putting this mock together. These are important to keep in mind.
* No trades.
* No compensatory picks until they’re all announced by the NFL.
* Team needs are pre-free agency, which means some top tier needs will be met by re-signing current players.
* This mock is based on what I’m hearing, not what I would do.
The Vikings are projected to get a fourth-rounder and a sixth-rounder when the compensatory picks are announced. Also of note is how Miller defines the Vikings’ needs prior to free agency.
Tier 1 LT, IDL, S | Tier 2 IOL, CB, QB | Tier 3 WR, EDGE, LB
I might bump up EDGE and WR to Tier 2 while dropping QB lower. I also might flip LT and IOL. But overall, these are solid. Let’s get to Minnesota’s projected picks.
Round 1, Pick 14: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Some other players available: Gregory Rousseau, Kwity Paye, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Daviyon Nixon, Mac Jones, Azeez Ojulari, Jaelan Phillips, Christian Barmore
The Minnesota Vikings hold steady and find a top-tier left tackle prospect on the board; the perfect pick for their scheme given his athleticism and upside.
Christian Darrisaw didn’t opt out of the 2020 season and saw his stock rise from potential second-rounder to a top 20 player. He’s agile, a smooth mover in pass protection and has the length to handle the edge. He’s also a balanced, poised player whose awareness was notable on tape.
Pairing Darrisaw with Brian O’Neill gives Minnesota a legitimate pair of bookend tackles who can keep the passing game flowing and boost the ground game. Checking off your biggest need at a premium position without having to surrender draft capital is also an ideal situation.
Some may ask about the need to improve the pass rush. Many folks like to connect Minnesota to a pass-rusher in this spot, but given the value on the board and the importance of the left tackle position, if things fell this way in late April this would be the expected pick based on the team’s internal view of their needs.
This is a pick I’m starting to see more and more for the Vikings, and I don’t mind it at all. Addressing the offensive line has to be the No. 1 priority, as I have more trust in Mike Zimmer to figure things out on the defensive line, especially with Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce coming back. The Vikings need to keep pouring resources in the O-line until they get it right.
Darrisaw was awesome in 2020, improving greatly over his first two seasons for the Hokies. He was dominant in both facets of the game, creating massive gaps in the run game and not allowing a single sack or QB hit all year. Darrisaw is a great fit for the Vikings’ zone-blocking scheme with his athleticism, but the important news is that he can also pass protect at a very high level. He’s incredibly strong, physical, and consistent with his technique.
This pick would allow the Vikings to cut Riley Reiff for cap relief, which may have already happened by the time the draft rolls around. Darrisaw would be a Day 1 starter at left tackle with a good chance to develop into an elite player at that position. The Vikings could then keep Ezra Cleveland at guard and would just need to find a replacement for Dakota Dozier. This might not be the sexiest pick, but Darrisaw is a stud and could end up being the Vikings’ best left tackle in ages.
- Round 3, Pick 78: Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC
- Round 3, Pick 90: Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
- Round 4, Pick 109: D’Ante Smith, OL, East Carolina
- Round 4, Pick 115: Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU
- Round 4, Pick 124: Marco Wilson, CB, Florida
- Round 5, Pick 140: Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State
- Round 5, Pick 151: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
- Round 6, Pick 174: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
- Round 7, Pick 204: Tarron Jackson, EDGE, Coastal Carolina
There are some interesting names here. Here are my takeaways.
- I don’t love the Hufanga pick, as I think there are better safeties available (Andre Cisco, Paris Ford, and Richard LeCounte, to name a few). Hufanga is a big-hitting box safety, but the Vikings need someone with good range as a deep safety to replace Anthony Harris.
- The Shelvin pick is another one where it’s the right position, but…not really. Just like there are different kinds of safeties, there are different kinds of defensive tackles. Shelvin is a massive run-stuffing nose tackle. The Vikings already have one of those in Pierce; they need a three-tech who can rush the passer. I’d rather take someone like Dayo Odeyingbo or Marvin Wilson there.
- Smith is a project who played tackle at ECU but could move to guard in the NFL. I don’t think he’d be close to ready to start in 2021, though.
- Double-dipping at cornerback in the fourth round is intriguing. Vincent is a slot guy who opted out of the 2020 season, while Wilson is a toolsy prospect who is prone to mental errors (such as throwing a shoe in the SEC Championship game). I bet the Vikings would take an EDGE with one of those picks, though. They love fourth-round EDGEs.
- The next three picks, all on the offense, are pretty fun. Johnson is a small-school WR who was awesome at the Senior Bowl, Ehlinger might instantly be a more talented backup QB than Sean Mannion, and Stevenson is a big back who can really move. I think the Vikings are set at running back, though.
- Unless they make a move in free agency, I can’t see the Vikings waiting until the seventh round to take an EDGE. Jackson is interesting, though, as he was super productive for a surprising Coastal team over the past two years.
Ultimately, I don’t love this mock for the Vikings, outside of the Darrisaw and Johnson picks. There are too many reaches and players that don’t really fit what Minnesota needs. But Miller knows this stuff better than I do!
I’m going to release my first seven-round Vikings mock draft article soon, but for now, here’s one I threw together and posted on Twitter:
Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.