The Minnesota Vikings knew heading into the draft this year that they had to fill several holes on both sides of the ball. They managed to do so while finding extreme value throughout at many positions of need.
Here’s a complete list of the selections made in this year’s draft and a grade for each player.
Round one: Virginia Tech LT Christian Darrisaw
The offensive line was one of the biggest priorities coming into the draft after a 2020 season in which the unit struggled immensely. Christian Darrisaw was PFF’s highest-graded pass blocker in the power five conferences with an overall grade of 94.5.
He has good athleticism to match up in the outside zone scheme, but he also has the ideal size for the position. It’s going to be fun watching him utilized in space in the screen game as well, as the Vikings use Dalvin Cook frequently in that regard.
Not only did the Vikings find their left tackle of the future, but they did so while moving back nine spots and acquiring two more picks in the third-round.
Round three: Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond
Speaking of acquiring two more picks in the third-round, the Vikings attempted to find their quarterback of the future with one of the picks they got in return from the Jets.
Kirk Cousins is the quarterback for the Vikings in 2021 and there’s a chance he is well beyond that as well. However, it was time for the team to find a legit backup plan on a rookie contract.
That’s exactly what they found in Kellen Mond, who has a high ceiling but needs some development. The front office was high on him throughout the process, and it’s easy to see why after he won the MVP of the Senior Bowl and put on a show at his pro day.
It’s unlikely the fanbase gets to see much of Mond in 2021, but they may have picked up their successor plan for Cousins.
Round three: North Carolina LB Chazz Surratt
This was the first pick for the Vikings that I questioned when they read the card on stage. Chazz Surratt switched to linebacker after being brought to North Carolina as a quarterback.
Mel Kiper said that he’s a fan of this pick and said that he expects him to see the field early on in his career.
Personally I felt the Vikings could have addressed another need here, but maybe they’re setting themselves up for life after Anthony Barr.
Nevertheless, they got an athletic prospect with a good nose for the football.
Round three: Ohio State OG Wyatt Davis
Perhaps my favorite of the four third-round selections, Wyatt Davis should not have been available for the Vikings at 86. There is a ton of value in this selection and I expect Davis to be starting on the offensive line from day one.
The former Buckeye plays with a nastiness to his game, but he’s also athletic enough to handle the outside zone scheme that the Vikings run. There were some mocks that had the Vikings looking at him in the first-round, so grabbing him in the third round was one of the biggest value picks in their entire class.
After watching a disgruntled offensive line in 2020, the Vikings front office decided it was time for a makeover to the unit. Davis and Darrisaw should both be impact players instantly.
Round three: Pittsburgh DE Patrick Jones II
There’s a real possibility that Patrick Jones II will be the starting defensive end opposite of Danielle Hunter in 2021. If that’s the case, this pick is also solid value for the Vikings.
Jones II was a consensus All-American in 2020 after racking up nine sacks in 11 games. He plays with good effort and is strictly a pass rushing defensive end. He fits in perfectly with the Vikings 4-3 scheme and Andre Patterson gets another tool in his toolbox.
Finding players that can get after the quarterback in this class was also a priority, and they got off to a good start with their final pick in the third-round.
Round four: Iowa State RB Kene Nwangwu
Running back wasn’t a critical need and was one of the Vikings’ strongest positional groups a year ago. However, their return game was atrocious and that’s where this pick starts to make more sense.
Nwangwu is an elite athlete and he shows that off in the return game. He could also be a good change of pace back on third down, where the Vikings could utilize his speed in the passing game.
It seemed a little bit early to make this pick, but the Vikings clearly like the upside in the former Iowa State running back.
Round four: California S Camryn Bynum
In terms of celebrations after getting drafted, former Cal cornerback Camryn Bynum gets an A+ grade.
The Vikings turned Bynum’s draft card in as a safety, so he’ll get to learn behind one of the league’s best in Harrison Smith.
As another Senior Bowl standout, it seems like the Vikings really did their homework down in Mobile this offseason. Bynum has a nose for the football and is a more than willing tackler in the run game. He’ll fit into the Mike Zimmer defense quite well and won’t be forced onto the field early in his career.
Round four: Florida State DE Janarius Robinson
I mentioned earlier that the Vikings had to get better at getting after the quarterback in 2021. They decided to double dip on the pass rushing position and I’m a big fan of their final pick in the fourth-round.
Janarius Robinson has great athleticism traits and could very well be the next project that Andre Patterson turns into a long-term player.
This was one of my favorite picks throughout all three days and I think he has the capability to become a nightmare of a pass rusher. He has the tools to do so and got drafted into a perfect situation with one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL.
Round five: Iowa WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette
The only thing that the Vikings lacked after the first four rounds was a playmaker at the wide receiver position. The reason they waited so long could be due to the fact that they were able to find as good of a player as Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth-round.
Smith-Marsette doesn’t have the most insane stats, but he also had to deal with below average quarterback play at Iowa. He’ll be in competition with Nwangwu in the return game, but I think he has a legit chance to see the field as a receiver early on as well.
Round five: Central Missouri TE Zach Davidson
Perhaps one of the most interesting prospects in the Vikings class, Zach Davidson was drafted as a tight end but also handled punting duties in college.
With the departure of Kyle Rudolph this offseason it made sense to find another tight end at some point. Davidson played at the DII level, but stands at 6’7” and ran a 4.62 40-yard dash.
At the very least, he’s a developmental tight end with a lot of size and athleticism for the position.
Round six: Pittsburgh DT Jaylen Twyman
The interior of the Vikings defensive line is going to be improved drastically in 2021 with Michael Pierce returning and the addition of Dalvin Tomlinson.
Former Pitt DT Jaylen Twyman is an intriguing prospect that has a lot of potential for someone who was drafted in the same slot as Tom Brady. He didn’t test well and put on some weight after opting out in the 2020 season, but this is another guy that Patterson should be able to work wonders on.
Twyman showed in 2019 that he can get after the quarterback from the interior. During that season he led Pitt with 10.5 sacks, the first time a DT did that for the school since Aaron Donald in 2013.
On top of potentially being a steal in the sixth-round, Twyman had the best reaction when he found out he was heading to Minnesota.
The Vikings had an extremely solid draft where value and need collided several times. With the mixture of free agency additions and 11 total draft picks, the Vikings seem poised to make a run at the playoffs in 2021.
Overall draft grade: A-
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