Although there are still six games left on the Vikings schedule, the playoff hopes have diminished once again after their loss to the Cowboys. That means one thing, it’s now mock draft season in Minnesota.
The Vikings have several needs, but the positive part of the 2021 season will be the return of some of their star players. Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and the debut of Michael Pierce in a Vikings jersey are just a few of the names that will instantly boost the team’s defense next year.
Having said that, there are still some big holes on the roster. Before I start with the mock draft it should be noted that this is without any trades, only goes through five rounds and was done on TheDraftNetwork.com.
Round 1 - BYU Quarterback Zach Wilson
Quarterback isn’t a glaring need for the Vikings, as Kirk Cousins is tied to the team for at least the next two seasons. That shouldn’t stop them from drafting their quarterback of the future and that’s what I did with their first-round pick. Zach Wilson is quickly rising up towards the top ten in the majority of mock drafts. The Vikings may have to trade up to land a quarterback as talented as Wilson, and if that's the case I'm on board with trading up.
Wilson would bring a new style of quarterback play to the Vikings. He’s a mobile, gunslinging quarterback that would instantly bring excitement to the position.
Through his first nine games of the season Wilson is completing over 74 percent of his passes for 2,724 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has also ran for 191 yards and eight touchdowns thus far.
I recently had the opportunity to do a one-on-one interview with Wilson. Check it out here if you want to learn more about the future first-rounder.
Two quarterbacks that are in the running for MVP in 2020 were both taken in the first round when their teams already had a starting quarterback. It might be unlikely that Wilson turns into the next Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes, but the Vikings will never find out if they don’t take the chance.
Valuable time is being wasted due to the Vikings not having a quarterback developing behind Cousins, so it makes too much sense to draft one early this year.
Round 3 - Pittsburgh Defensive Lineman Jaylen Twyman
This might be unrealistic to expect Jaylen Twyman to fall to the third-round, but if it happened the Vikings couldn’t pass it up. He would instantly make the three-technique spot better and would pair nicely alongside Pierce.
Twyman is at his best when rushing the passer and he will have to get better in run support when he gets to the next level. Having said that, it would still most likely be his starting spot in his rookie season.
Andre Patterson would have another player to groom on his defensive line. His proven ability to get after quarterbacks would benefit a Vikings pass rush that has struggled to do exactly that in 2020.
Round 3 - Syracuse Safety Andre Cisco
There is a legitimate chance that Anthony Harris doesn’t re-sign with the Vikings in 2021. The team is already extremely thin at the position so drafting another ball hawk in Andre Cisco would be an ideal situation for the Vikings.
Coming into 2020 Cisco had 12 interceptions over his first two seasons but missed the majority of the 2020 season at Syracuse with a lower-leg injury. There’s still a good chance he gets drafted well before this pick, but if he falls this far it would be a good fit for the Vikings.
He’d be able to learn from one of the league’s best in Harrison Smith and would likely be the other starter if Harris doesn’t re-sign ahead of 2021.
Round 4 - Penn State Defensive End Shaka Toney
If you haven’t already noticed, the Vikings absolutely love taking raw and athletic pass rushers in the middle rounds. They found Hunter with a third-round pick and we’re starting to see flashes out of this year’s project in D.J. Wonnum.
Shaka Toney was one of the best players available at this point in the draft. He’d be another athletic project for Patterson to groom under Hunter and Wonnum.
His athleticism is impressive and he shows off his speed when rushing the passer. He could certainly add some more pass rushing moves, but that’s where Patterson comes in.
Round 4 - Oklahoma State Wide Receiver Tylan Wallace
We’re currently watching the 2020 wide receiver class prove to be one of the best of all-time and the 2021 class has been expected by many to be just as good. It’s not a critical need for the Vikings, but with how deep the class is I fully expect them to grab at least one receiver.
Tylan Wallace would bring with him an excellent ability at winning contested catches. He plays very physical and it shows in his YAC and winning the jump balls. He’s also a willing participant in run blocking which is a must in the Vikings offense.
Pairing him with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen would allow for him to be eased into the offense. Mike Zimmer loves letting his rookie receivers develop before throwing them into the fire and they’d be able to do that with the emergence of Jefferson.
Round 4 - Notre Dame Defensive End Daelin Hayes
Would it really be that surprising to see the Vikings add another defensive end given the lack of pass rush we’ve seen in 2020?
Daelin Hayes is a big body, athletic pass rusher that could use some more work at his craft. Patterson would likely be happy with the team’s last two drafts, but they would just have to start seeing some more production out of the young guys.
Getting Hunter back will be huge for the Vikings, but adding a few more projects for Patterson next year could set his defensive line up for a lot of future success.
Round 5 - Oregon Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir
Mike Zimmer finally gets his cornerback pick in the fifth-round. Deommodore Lenoir would add another scrappy corner to our secondary with the ability to play outside or at the nickel spot.
Lenoir is solid in coverage and plays physical in run support. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for the Vikings to go cornerback on day one, so finding someone as talented as Lenoir in the fifth-round could be labeled as one of the final day steals.
Round 5 - Marshall Offensive Tackle Josh Ball
I already know I’ll get some slack for not drafting an offensive lineman until the final day of the draft. Wyatt Davis is a name to keep an eye on if the Vikings decide to trade back in round one, so it’s still a strong possibility that’s the direction they go in an earlier round.
The Vikings offensive line hasn’t been great in 2020, but it’s starting to show improvement. Ezra Cleveland has emerged as a starting guard and Riley Reiff is stringing together a nice season. If the same unit is on the roster ahead of 2021, the left guard position would be the only spot that could use an upgrade.
Although the guard spot is the biggest need, Josh Ball was the best tackle available at the time and that’s the direction I went. He’s an athletic tackle that starts on the left side for Marshall. Gary Kubiak’s system requires athleticism along the offensive line, so Ball could be a fit.
He’s not going to be a day one starter by any means, but has the length to at least be a depth option. He might have to beef up a bit at the next level, but his 6’8” stature would allow him to add some weight.
Round 5 - Notre Dame Interior Offensive Lineman Tommy Kraemer
Alright, I might have seen the name and immediately hit the draft button. However, Notre Dame offensive lineman have a great history of finding success in the NFL.
Tommy Kraemer displays good power along the interior of Notre Dame’s offensive line but doesn’t have the best athleticism.
In my opinion I wouldn’t hate drafting another skilled player here. Behind Thielen and Jefferson the wide receiver depth is extremely thin. The fifth round is where the Vikings found Stefon Diggs, so why not consider adding another one to the mix?
There is still a lot of season left, but the 4-6 Vikings would need a small miracle to make the playoffs in 2020. The good news is that the Vikings will be getting several key assets back in 2021, and they’re loaded up with draft picks for the second consecutive year.