The Minnesota Vikings are back in the playoff hunt, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have holes on their roster. Here is a seven-round mock draft filling some of those needs.
The Minnesota Vikings got off to a rough start to the season, losing five of their first six games and falling quickly out of the NFC North title picture. Many fans and media members were calling for a full rebuild in Minnesota, wanting a new quarterback, head coach and general manager for the 2021 season. However, ever since the bye, the Vikings are 4-1 and right back in the NFC playoff picture.
After an abysmal start to the season, Kirk Cousins is playing some of his best football of his career and Dalvin Cook has put himself in the mix of the MVP conversation this year becoming one of the most dominant runners in the entire league. Although not perfect, the Vikings roster has come a long way since week 1 of the season. This mock draft helps fill a few of those holes that can bring the Vikings back to the NFC North crown once again.
This mock draft was made using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine and their predictive big board.
Before we begin the mock draft, let’s take a look at some of the biggest needs for Minnesota going into the 2021 NFL Draft.
Interior Offensive Lineman
For years now the Vikings have struggled to find consistency at the guard spot. Rotating between Pat Elflein, Brett Jones, Dakota Dozier, Mike Remmers, Nick Easton and Josh Kline over the last several years, Minnesota has failed to find a continuous starter at both guard spots.
Ezra Cleveland looks to be a very good starter who can play guard or tackle, but with Riley Reiff an impending free agent he may be taking over the left tackle duties, leaving the right guard spot vacant once again.
Another year, another need for the Vikings at corner. After bringing in rookies Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand, Minnesota felt they were gaining some really good depth behind Mike Hughes and Holton Hill this season. But with Hughes being injured once again and Hill’s play dropping drastically, Minnesota now lacks the depth once again behind their starting corners.
Kirk Cousins is locked into the Vikings salary cap through at least 2021 and if he continues to play at the clip he is on, he very well could be there for the next few seasons after that. That being said, a strong backup is always needed. Minnesota needs to invest in a decent backup to develop as well in case Cousins were to get injured.
The Vikings are in a precarious position with their offensive line. They have created a really good, young nucleus of players with Brian O’Neill (RT), Garrett Bradbury (C) and Ezra Cleveland (RG) on the right side of the ball. Those three alone might be three of the best and most athletic, young offensive lineman in football.
O’Neill has cemented himself as one of the best right tackles in football only allowing three sacks in his entire tenure in the league so far. With that being said, the left side of the line is a little bit to be desired. The left guard spot has been a revolving door for Minnesota for years and Riley Reiff hasn’t fully lived up to his big contract at the left tackle spot.
Although he is playing pretty well this season, Reiff is a free agent at the end of this year and Minnesota is in a tough spot financially to be able to bring him back if they wanted to. That is where Rashawn Slater comes in. Slater has the versatility to slide in at the left tackle or one of the guard spots if Minnesota so chooses to utilize him that way. This gives Minnesota options along the front with both Slater and Ezra Cleveland having the ability to play both guard and tackle.
Slater is the ideal fit for this zone blocking scheme because of his athletic ability and great lateral movement skills in the run game. Because of his length and mobility, he could get a trial at guard, but he has the ability to play tackle due to his consistent hand usage and strength at the point of attack. He is someone who has risen up boards a lot lately and should be expected to continue shooting up boards as the season goes along.