B/W Case: The Vikings Are Hoping for Three Third-Round Contributors

So far, we’ve covered Christian Darrisaw and Kellen Mond in our Best/Worst Case article series for Minnesota’s draft picks. In this piece, we take on a trio of third-round players, all of whom will have a chance to be contributors for the Vikings.

Admittedly, it’s a somewhat ambitious task taking on Chazz Surratt, Wyatt Davis, and Patrick Jones II. There’s a common thread that brings these three together, though (apart from being a third-round trio): the Vikings are hoping each will be a contributor without being a franchise savior. None of them are carrying the weight of having to save Minnesota’s team; this isn’t an Andrew Luck replacing Peyton Manning scenario. Instead, it’s three upside players who will be given a real shot to compete on a strong roster. We’ll handle them in the way they were drafted.

Chazz Surratt, LB, 78th

Yesterday, we spoke about PFF‘s Minnesota Vikings starter projection. One of the positions I quibbled with was the weak-side LB spot, suggesting that Surratt has a better shot than Nick Vigil. As you’ll see in the video below, Surratt’s game isn’t without fault:

The worst case is that a player who is already 24 continues to struggle adjusting to the LB position (he used to play QB). Instead of blossoming beside Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, Surratt gets overwhelmed by the NFL’s physicality, making him a hindrance in run defense. Zim’s complicated defense may also be overwhelming for the inexperienced defender.

On the other hand, Surratt could do well in a sheltered role. Kendricks and Barr do the heavy-lifting; Surratt thrives with relatively little offensive attention. His speed and athleticism make him a capable Eric Wilson replacement. Though undersized – 6’2, 225 – Surratt benefits from having two monstrous DTs in front of him to eat up double-teams. The added bonus is that he’s a terror on special teams. After all, it’s unlikely Minnesota selects the undersized, former-QB unless they think he can immediately help on specials.

Wyatt Davis, iOL, 86th

The best case is that Davis is a starter at RG and ends up being competent in his rookie year. Why not project him to be better than competent? Well, he’s a mid-round rookie. If you think back to Pat Elflein’s rookie season, you’ll recall that he far exceeded expectations by being Minnesota’s starting center. His overall performance was by no means elite, though; he finished with a 66.6 PFF grade. For context, Dakota Dozier’s grade from last season was a 44.6. Dru Samia’s was a paltry 33.1. In other words, mere competence at both guard spots would be a sizeable upgrade for our Vikings. Davis has the potential to give us this average to perhaps above-average play.

The worst case is that Davis doesn’t have enough to beat out underwhelming vets like Dozier or Samia. The Vikings are hoping that this trio of third-round players can all be contributors, but maybe that’s just too much to ask for Davis. Minnesota is thus forced to shift Mason Cole to RG or rely on the Dozier/Samia duo. Davis becomes yet another example of Minnesota failing to get the most out of an o-lineman.

Patrick Jones II, DE, 90th

Were I a smarter man, I’d have included some discussion of Jones II in yesterday’s discussion of starting positions. Alas, I am not a smart man.

Jones II shouldn’t be considered the favorite to start opposite Danielle Hunter, but he’ll have the chance to win the job. He’s been productive over his past couple seasons. 17.5 sacks and 25 TFLs aren’t otherworldly numbers, but they are very good. Jones II could take the next step in his career under the tutelage of Andre Patterson, The D-Line Whisperer. Success for Jones II involves getting onto the field for double-digit snaps per game and making disruptive plays in the opportunities he has.

The worst case is that Jones II gets lost in the d-line shuffle. There are a ton of players competing for DE snaps. It’s totally plausible that Jones II fails to assert himself in training camp, resulting in him being largely overlooked once gameday arrives. The end result is being limited to special teams snaps or being entirely left off the gameday roster.

The Vikings’ Trio of Third-Round Contributors

With Darrisaw, the hope is for an every-down starter. With Mond, the hope is for noticeable potential & upside that never actually needs to take the field in 2021. For the trio of third-round picks considered in this article, the Vikings hope for mere contributors.

LB, iOL, and DE are all positions that could use some help on the periphery. We don’t need players to step in and immediately take over the position (though some may be inclined to say we do for iOL). Success for these three will merely involve timely, solid contributions and the ability to fill-in if an injury occurs. Is that too much to ask? We’ll soon find out.

Training camp begins next week.