Minnesota Vikings: Top Three Needs in the 2021 NFL Draft
That glorious time of year is upon us again. The air smells cleaner, my food tastes better and I even feel a little taller. That’s right, it’s draft season! I have an unhealthy obsession with the NFL Draft and an even unhealthier obsession with the Minnesota Vikings so while I love this event it does nothing to improve my rapidly deteriorating mental health. That is, of course, a me problem.
The Vikings and trader Rick currently have a whopping 10 picks to supplement their roster this season so let’s get into the biggest needs of my favorite team.
Need #1: Offensive Line
If you have spent any amount of time on Vikings Twitter this will come as no shock. The offense was solid last year despite a terrible line and arguably their best lineman, Riley Reiff, was unceremoniously released in March. Head coach Mike Zimmer is a defense first kind of guy but even he cannot think trotting out Dakota Dozier and Rashod Hill will punch their ticket to Inglewood in February.
How the board falls at pick #14 will dictate Rick Spielman’s decision here. He might be the only person on the planet that loves the draft more than I do. Rick is a trading machine.
If a top guy like Penei Sewell out of Oregon somehow falls to them he would be beyond ideal but a more realistic option is Rashawn Slater from Northwestern. Slater’s quickness and ability to make it to the second level is a perfect fit in the Viking’s zone blocking scheme. If he is still around when Minnesota is on the clock Spielman needs to make the pick and thank all those in front for passing.
Need #2: Pass-Rush DE/DT
The Vikings currently roster one of the league’s best pass rushers in Daneille Hunter. Unfortunately, that is all they roster. They attempted to pair him with former Jaguar Yannick Ngakoue last season which failed spectacularly. I mean, anytime you can ship off a 2nd round pick and 6 games into the season flip him for a 3rd you gotta do it.
I would think this is something the Vikings address later in the draft. They have a pretty good track record of molding raw talent on that side of the ball (see former 3rd round pick Hunter, Danielle). I would love to see DT Daviyon Nixon from Iowa go to the Vikings here. The former Hawkeye projects as a 3 technique defensive tackle that, with a little seasoning, could develop into that interior pass rusher Zimmer has been missing since his days with Geno Atkins. Fit, need and him being from my alma mater doesn’t hurt much either.
Need #3: Safety
I went back and forth here. The Vikings currently roster Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson at the wideout position but could use a third option for Cousins. The existence of these two stars pushes that need a bit farther down and if I know Zimmer (I don’t) he will always go defense over everything.
Minnesota let Anthony Harris walk to the Eagles this offseason. They filled this very productive players void with former Cowboys safety Xavier Woods. Woods is fine. He was signed to a one year, low risk deal. He is not the future. The Vikings find Harrison Smith’s ultimate new running mate in the draft. I again do not see them addressing this need early. More of a day three pick in my opinion.
The guy that stands out most to me is Christian Uphoff from Illinois State. A small school prospect who isn’t getting the kind of shine he deserves. Uphoff is very versatile, he played both strong and free safety at ISU and he is exactly the kind of guy you want to select towards the end of the draft. Could become a starter down the road but should at least contribute on special teams in year one. He also returns punts which cannot be dismissed.
Make sure to check back after the draft is completed so you can roast me in the comments on how wrong I was and be sure to keep it right here with IroniqMedia for all of your NFL Draft coverage.