Minnesota Vikings: Ideal first-round targets in 2021 NFL Draft

The Denver Broncos trade down and snag Rashawn Slater in the first round of this 2021 NFL mock draft (Photo by Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)
The Denver Broncos trade down and snag Rashawn Slater in the first round of this 2021 NFL mock draft (Photo by Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Minnesota Vikings, 2021 NFL Draft
The Minnesota Vikings could select Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

Other Offensive Tackles

After primarily focusing on improving their defense via free agency, the Minnesota Vikings will likely select multiple offensive linemen with their 11 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Minnesota will be looking to address the left tackle position for the first time since signing Riley Reiff in 2017 and should have options heading into the Draft.

Ezra Cleveland was a two-year starter at left tackle for Boise State and was selected with Minnesota’s second-round pick in the 2020 Draft, as the Vikings addressed the line after using their two first-round picks on Justin Jefferson and Jeff Gladney. Cleveland was shited to guard due to injuries and played well for a rookie lineman.

Cleveland’s future will likely decide the direction Minnesota takes when addressing their line in the 2021 NFL Draft. If Kubiak believes Cleveland can successfully transition back to the left tackle position, the Vikings’ primary need will be their interior line and they could hold off until the second round. If the Vikings believe Cleveland is better suited at guard, they will look to use their first-round pick on one of the premier tackles.

Christian Darrisaw, Left Tackle, Virginia Tech

After Penei Sewell, Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw may be the best all-around tackle available in the 2021 NFL Draft. Darrisaw made an immediate impact with the Hokies, earning a starting job at left tackle and continued to develop each of his three years. Darrisaw started each of his nine games in the 2020 season at left tackle, earning All-ACC honors, and is coming off one of the strongest seasons in this line group.

While Slater gives Minnesota options to rotate Cleveland and Slater between guard or tackle, Darrisaw would be the most logical pick for Spielman if the Vikings plan to keep Cleveland at guard. Darrisaw possesses the size, strength, and length to make an immediate impact at the left tackle position and would be an ideal fit in Kubiak’s expected zone run scheme.

Jalen Mayfield, Offensive Tackle, Michigan

Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield looks to be one of the more intriguing offensive line prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Mayfield spent three years at Michigan but only completed one year as a starter with the Wolverines. Mayfield featured in three games as a freshman and played a complete 2019 season at right tackle, in an incredibly impressive debut.

Mayfield was one of the top prospects heading into the 2020 season after playing well against some of the top defensive ends in college football his sophomore year but only played two games last fall due to the shortened season and injury. While Mayfield featured at right tackle, he could play on either side for the Vikings but would take time to develop based on his limited experience and return from injury.

Alijah Vera-Tucker, Offensive Lineman, USC

After redshirting his first year with the Trojans, Alijah Vera-Tucker broke into USC’s starting lineup as a guard in 2019 and earned All-Pac-12 honors on the way. Vera-Tucker earned USC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award over Dolphins’ 2020 first-round tackle, Austin Jackson, and successfully made the transition to the left tackle position for all of USC’s 2020 games.

Vera-Tucker’s successful transition to left tackle saw his draft status rise significantly, allowing him to go as high as the mid-first-round or move back to an interior guard spot. Vera-Tucker is one of the most athletic tackles in the draft class and could become Reiff’s long-term replacement. Vera-Tucker could make an immediate impact for the Minnesota Vikings at guard before moving adjusting to a move outside.

Wyatt Davis, Offensive Guard, Ohio State

If the Minnesota Vikings determine Cleveland is the future at left tackle, Spielman could turn his attention to improving play on the interior of the offensive line. Former 2018 first-round pick Garrett Bradbury has continued to struggle and the Vikings could look to improve play at center or stabilize the guard position. The Vikings have rotated through five guards over the past two years, leading to their inability to effectively set the line.

Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis looks to be the top guard prospect that will likely play on the interior line throughout their entire NFL career. He is at an ideal size to immediately start at guard and is an athletic lineman, allowing him to easily adapt to a zone run scheme. Davis could immediately take over at right guard but the Vikings may risk waiting to draft a guard until the second round.