In our first mock draft roundup, it became obvious pretty early that prognosticators felt as though the Minnesota Vikings needed to improve along the lines. It’s hard to disagree. The Vikings desperately need to fix their pass rush. Their run defense, moreover, leaves a lot to be desired. The offensive line was actually better than the d-line, but that’s a low-bar to clear. In any case, I think we can all agree that Minnesota has some work to do in the trenches, and the mock drafts continue to reflect this reality.
PFF: Gregory Rousseau, Edge
PFF has the Vikings taking edge rusher Gregory Rousseau. Mike Zimmer’s favorite website explains that Rousseau is “basically the dream prospect for what the Vikings have coveted at the defensive end position.” People who know more about draft prospects laud Rousseau for his elite athleticism. Andre Patterson – the D-Line Whisperer – certainly has had some success molding super-athletic pass rushers in the past. One thing to keep in mind: the Vikings generally don’t take their pass rushers very high. Danielle Hunter was a third round pick, but it’s not just him. Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, D.J. Wonnum, Jalyn Holmes, Ifeadi Odenigbo, etc. All were mid or late-round guys. It’s what they do.
TDN: Gregory Rousseau, Edge
Similar to PFF, The Draft Network sees Minnesota leaning toward the hyper-athletic Rousseau. They believe (quite reasonably, I hasten to add) that “it’s important for the early picks to be used on high-upside prospects at premium positions.” Preach it, brother. Now, I know I’ve just outlined how the Vikings generally don’t spend high picks on edge rushers, but perhaps last season’s disaster will prompt the Vikings to deviate from their usual direction.
TDN, God bless them, extended their draft into three rounds. The Vikings, bitter fans will remind us, lost their second-round pick in the failed Yannick Ngakoue trade. Their next pick, then, is at 78th overall. TDN thinks we’ll be taking Jaylen Twyman, an iDL from Pittsburgh: “Emerged as a redshirt sophomore in 2019, showcasing a dynamic pass rushing skill set. Showcases excellent vision to read the set of blockers and knows how to attack the pocket. Terrific quickness off the ball and he fires into the neutral zone with low pads and busy hands.” Twyman isn’t the perfect prospect; if he was, he wouldn’t be mocked in the third round. Nevertheless, I think most fans would agree that a truly explosive pass-rush specialist at 3T would be a welcome addition.
In true Slick Rick fashion, the Vikings have multiple third round picks. TDN has us picking another lineman, but this time it’s on the offensive side of the ball. Spencer Brown, per TDN, is a RT prospect for the Vikings to consider: “Spencer aligns at RT for the Northern Iowa offense. He is a sufficient athlete with good range, sufficient balance and agility. In the run game, he will compete to hold the point of attack but doesn’t generate much vertical movement in the run game.” Frankly, the brief description just doesn’t seem like he would be a good fit in Minnesota. Only average athleticism and ability in run blocking probably won’t cut it, but perhaps a shift inside to guard could do the trick.
ESPN: Christian Darisaw, OT
O-line is still getting some love. Christian Darisaw would compete with Ezra Cleveland for the LT spot (assuming Riley Reiff gets cut): “Darrisaw is a very talented left tackle who has power as a pass protector and can get to the second level to help block for Dalvin Cook in Minnesota’s zone run schemes. Other possibilities might include pass-rush aid — the Vikings had the fifth-fewest sacks in 2020 with 23 — or a safety.” Darisaw is definitely someone to keep an eye on. TDN also praises Darisaw: “Darrisaw is a long, fluid, and powerful left tackle that is a wall in pass protection, an exceptional blocker on the move, and a mauler in the run game.” Sounds like a perfect fit, one who might not be there at 14.
Minnesota Vikings fans should be taking full advantage of mock draft season. In the absence of a championship run in the present, we must fantasize about a championship run in the future. The NFL runs on hope. Perhaps 2021 will be our year. If it is, it will likely be because of a variety of factors, foremost among them being that they got the most out of their draft.