The NFL Draft is just days away, and one of the teams that is desperate to hit on their draft picks is the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have been a team that has been up and down the past few years, reaching the Conference Championship in 2018 but missing the playoffs last year. They also lost a few key pieces to their team, with the likes of Riley Reiff, Anthony Harris, and Eric Wilson departing in free agency. This year's draft seems a bit more crucial for the Viking's front office this year than it has in the past.
- Pick 14: Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
- Pick 78: Ben Cleveland, Georgia
- Pick 90: Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
- Pick 119: Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
- Pick 125: Kendrick Green, Illinois
- Pick 134: Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota
- Pick 143: Seth Williams, Auburn
- Pick 157: Jackson Carman, Clemson
- Pick 168: Richard LeCounte III, Georgia
- Pick 199: Tony Fields II, West Virginia
With the Viking's previous left tackle, Riley Reiff, leaving in free agency this year, Minnesota has a big hole to fill at a critical position. Their offensive line seems to always need work, so adding Christian Darrisaw with their first pick in the NFL Draft will go a long way to rebuilding their offensive line.
The Vikings currently do not own a second-round pick. With their second pick in the draft coming in the third round, Minnesota goes back to the offensive line, selecting Ben Cleveland from Georgia. Cleveland is a big, powerful guard that can help open up running lanes for Dalvin Cook and add protection in the future for Kirk Cousins or any other quarterback that starts for the Vikings.
In past years, one of the best positions for the Vikings was their defensive line. Now, they need to add help to their edge rushers. Over the summer, Carlos Basham was referred to as one of the better pass rushers in the upcoming draft class. He has watched his draft stock fall a bit but could end up being a steal for the Vikings in the middle portion of the draft. Basham has the ability to rush from a wide-nine position, a two-point stance, or with his hand in the dirt as a five-tech. This type of versatility will pair nicely with a healthy Danielle Hunter.
A position the Vikings need to address at some point in the draft is the quarterback position. They need to find someone to backup Cousins and potentially take over once his contract is up. With the NFL trend shifting to a more mobile quarterback league, Kellen Mond seems to be the perfect player to sit behind Cousins for a couple of years while developing into a potential starting quarterback.
We've already talked about the Viking's needs across the offensive line. They've addressed two areas already, drafting Darrisaw and Cleveland earlier in the draft. They don't stop there as they select the big, strong, and mobile Kendrick Green from Illinois. Green can play all across the interior offensive line and could be an excellent rotational piece and a solid fill-in if there are any injuries to guys like Ezra Cleveland or Garrett Bradbury.
The Vikings head to their backyard and select Minnesota Gopher cornerback Benjamin St-Juste. Minnesota has drafted a corner early in just about every draft over the past few years. None have seemed to stick as of late, as many are still developing into starting caliber corners. St-Juste has shown the potential to be a quality starter in the NFL. He has the size and technique to compete for starting reps with the rest of the Vikings team.
The Vikings are loaded at the top with wide receivers having Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson on their roster. However, they can't look past taking a wide receiver in this class, particularly a big, strong, wide receiver that can win in the red zone. Seth Williams is a wide receiver that can win above the rim and test a team vertically. He will pair nicely with what the Vikings already have on their roster.
The Vikings continue to address their offensive line needs, taking Clemson Tiger offensive lineman Jackson Carman. Carman is a versatile player that can play both tackle and guard positions. There is enough potential for him to make a roster spot and be a vital depth piece on the Vikings depth chart.
After losing Anthony Harris to free agency this offseason, the Vikings have a hole to fill at the free safety position. Before suffering the injury after getting into an accident on a motorcycle on Halloween night, Richard LeCounte III was considered one of the better safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft class. After the injury, he hasn't seemed like the same prospect we were used to seeing. If LeCounte can get healthy, he can be a player that could contribute to the Vikings defense early in his career.
This class of linebackers is a bit top-heavy with talent. Landing a high-potential prospect will be critical for Rick Spielman. After losing Eric Wilson in the free agency this offseason, finding that linebacker in the latter portion of the draft might be difficult, but it can be done. Tony Fields II was a Senior Bowl standout this offseason. He has flashed the potential to be a quality linebacker that can fit into sub-packages.
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