Worst Case Scenario: An Early Run on Offensive Linemen
I, like many Vikings fans, sometimes struggle to understand how the team plans on protecting Kirk Cousins in the upcoming season (won’t someone think of Cousins!). Last season, our offensive line was bad, and it’s only gotten worse. Arguably our steadiest player in 2020 – Riley Reiff – was cut to save precious cap space. So far, next to nothing has been done to remedy this obvious issue at LT. The Vikings, then, are likely going to be prioritizing the offensive line early in the NFL Draft.
Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman know far more about football than your humble author. In fact, I could devote myself to studying the game for the rest of my life and still fall short of equaling their knowledge. I say that to say this: if I can see that the offensive line is a major hindrance, so can they. Zim and Spielman have to know that the o-line is a major concern, and they therefore have to know that they desperately need to add talent. It would seem that they’ve decided to wait until the NFL Draft to make any substantial improvements to the offensive line.
To be sure, there are several intriguing prospects, many of whom will likely be available once the 14th pick arrives. What happens if they aren’t, though?
Sewell should go top-5, and Slater might get scooped up shortly thereafter. Perhaps Dallas looks at their rapidly declining offensive line an decides on Darrisaw and maybe Vera-Tucker is precisely who the Chargers need. None of these things are outside the realm of possibility. What would be even worse is if all those top QBs end up getting chosen high as well. Minnesota’s ability to trade down would be a lot more limited.
Does this mean really good players won’t be available? By no means. It is a virtual guarantee that a top-tier player will be available at 14th overall. Let’s not forget that Justin Jefferson went 22nd and finished as a second-team All Pro in his rookie year. The key really rests in accurately identifying who that player will be and then making the move. After all, Philly chose Jalen Reagor at 21 instead of Jefferson.
A run of offensive linemen, though, would put Minnesota in a tricky situation, especially if it involves being unable to trade down. The defensive line does need help, but they’re already going to experience a massive talent infusion, so it’s not nearly as important as the o-line. I have a hard time believing Minnesota goes DE, but I’ve been wrong before. Honestly, the Vikings may be tempted to choose a corner if all the linemen are gone, especially if Jaycee Horn is still available.
If the highly-rated offensive linemen get chosen early, the Vikings won’t necessarily be experiencing a disaster. A corner, linebacker, edge rusher, or even another receiver could end up being the right decision at 14.
Our most pressing need, though, is the offensive line, and it’s not particularly close. A perfect draft world involves being able to marry true need with true value. At 14, Minnesota is likely hoping one of the top-end o-linemen will be available, thereby allowing them address this clear deficiency without needing to reach.