I think the Vikings had a near-perfect first night of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Rick Spielman and company traded back from 14 to 23, picking up two more third-round picks in the process (Nos. 66 and 86), and landed a left tackle that probably should've gone much earlier. Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw, who will slide into Riley Reiff's vacated LT spot from day one, possesses a remarkable combination of athleticism, size, and much-needed pass protection ability. If he pans out, the Vikings will have their bookend tackles set for years with Darrisaw and Brian O'Neill.
But don't take my word for it. Let's go around the internet and look at the draft grades the Vikings received for this pick from various national writers and analysts.
Lorenz Leinweber, SI.com: A
The strong Hokie makes playing left tackle look much easier than it is. Darrisaw possesses plenty of power to prevent rushers from going through him. In the run game, he creates movement on a consistent basis, opening up running lanes. His foot speed is just average, which could be a concern if he's unable to continue improving technically. This is a great pick for the Vikings, who upgrade their left tackle spot with a player who should be long gone at 23. Darrisaw has the makings of a quality starting tackle in a league that's starving for talent at the position.
Danny Kelly, The Ringer: A+
This is exactly why I didn’t like the Jets’ decision to trade up earlier in the round. Even after moving back and picking up a pair of third-round picks, Minnesota gets incredible value in grabbing Darrisaw here. The Virginia Tech standout fills a big need, bringing pass-protecting chops and the athleticism to block well in the run game.
Kelly only gave out seven A-pluses in his 32 grades, which you can find here.
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: A+
One of the least surprising moments of the first round was the Vikings trading out of the 14th overall spot once the Chargers selected Rashawn Slater at No. 13. Acquiring two third-round picks from the Jets (and sending back a fourth-rounder) to move down nine selections was clearly the right move, and looked even better when they found the left tackle they needed in Darrisaw at 23. Scouts did not like his inconsistency finishing plays, but he has the athleticism and strength to make it at the next level. His potential as a long-time starter at left tackle makes him a perfect fit for the Vikings.
Reuter gave out even fewer A-pluses, with just six of them.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: A
I love this pick. I believe he will be the best tackle in the draft. It fills a need in a big way.
Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report: A
The physical tools are clearly present for Darrisaw to become a long-term left tackle. His next offensive line coach must concentrate on technique, particularly in his pass set, to fully harness his power while simultaneously making him a reliable blindside protector. Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman masterfully navigated this year’s first round. The team’s commander moved down nine spots, added a pair of third-round picks and still landed a top offensive tackle prospect. Darrisaw can immediately move into the starting left tackle spot left by Riley Reiff when the front office released the nine-year veteran. The choice makes the team’s plans much clearer. The possibility that right guard Ezra Cleveland would move back to left tackle was in play. Cleveland is a natural blindside protector, but he found a home along the Vikings’ offensive interior. Darrisaw can immediately take over blindside capabilities and solve one of Minnesota’s two issues along the front five. Finding a prospect to fill the other guard spot should be the Vikings’ next step.
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: B+
It’s back to back Hokies as the Vikings slide down and grab a player who routinely was mocked in the teens. GM Rick Spielman typically lands good value, and this fits the bill. We weren’t quite as enamored with Darrisaw’s upside as others, but he's a very nice player with the athletic traits to be a Day 1 starter at left tackle.
James Dator, SB Nation: A
This is a solid pick made great by the fact the Vikings traded back and acquired more value. It’s completely conceivable the team would have been okay staying at No. 14 and taking Darrisaw, but they were willing to take the risk and move back. Minnesota needed trench help on both sides of the ball, and Darrisaw will play LT from day one.
Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: A
GM Rick Spielman once again maneuvered well, picking up extra draft capital while still landing a strong prospect at a position of need. Darrisaw (6-foot-5, 322) was a rock-solid left tackle for the Hokies, starting 35 games over the past three seasons. He did not allow a sack or a hit on 293 pass-blocking snaps last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Darrisaw should play tackle for the Vikings, but he has the versatility to play guard down the road. The Vikings moved back from 14 to 23 and picked up picks 66 and 86 (they gave back 143). Minnesota would’ve been justified in taking Darrisaw at 14. But the trade sets them up now with five top-100 picks. This worked out great for them.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: A
The Vikings pull off another draft coup with Rick Spielman, managing to still land the rock of a left tackle they needed for their style of offensive line after trading back nine spots. They get a big upgrade from Rashod Hill to make both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook happy. This pick is a home run, much like Justin Jefferson around the same spot in 2020.
Rob Rang, Fox Sports: B+
The second consecutive Hokie off the board, Darrisaw is a light-footed tackle with the potential to one day challenge for Pro Bowl honors. He fills a clear area of longtime need for the Vikings, especially given the pass rushers Minnesota faces in the NFC North. Darrisaw is an intriguing talent, one with both quality tape and some clear areas in which he can improve – suggesting he has not yet reached his maximum potential. At this point in the draft, he could wind up proving a steal, just like his former teammate Farley and the Vikings' first-round pick last year, wideout Justin Jefferson.
Luke Easterling, USA Today Draft Wire: A
The ideal scenario for any team that trades back is to add picks, and still end up with a player that would have been worth your original selection. That’s exactly what the Vikings did here, moving back nine spots and still landing a starting-caliber left tackle that would have already been a fantastic value at their original spot. He fills a huge need, can start immediately, and he’s a huge bargain this late in the first round.
Walter Football: B
How can you not like this value for the Vikings? I thought Christian Darrisaw would be their pick at No. 14 if Rashawn Slater happened to be off the board. He's long and athletic, which is exactly what Minnesota looks for from its offensive linemen. However, several teams told us that there's "something missing with Darrisaw." Some teams think he lacks toughness, which would worry me. Still, this is a good value selection.
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