Minnesota Vikings: Trade targets in the 2021 NFL Draft

The Philadelphia Eagles select Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round of this 2021 NFL mock draft (Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
The Philadelphia Eagles select Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round of this 2021 NFL mock draft (Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /
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2021 NFL Draft, Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings could trade up to select offensive tackle Rashawn Slater in the 2021 NFL Draft. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

It’s hard to look back on Minnesota’s 2020 draft class and give the Vikings anything short of an A. Justin Jefferson earned a Pro-Bowl appearance and was the best offensive rookie, despite being the fifth receiver off the board. Minnesota’s second first-round pick, Gladney improved throughout the year and led the team in snaps at corner alongside third-round pick Cameron Dantzler while fourth-rounder D.J. Wonnum broke into the lineup at defensive end.

However, it will be the former second-round pick, Ezra Cleveland who will dictate the Vikings’ approach towards the 2021 NFL Draft. Cleveland, a former left tackle at Boise State, lined up at guard due to injuries across the front and found success at the position. Following the decision to cut Reiff, it was expected Minnesota would move Cleveland to his natural position. However, after a successful rookies year at guard, the Vikings have yet to decide where Cleveland will play in 2021.

The qualify of offensive tackles in the early first round or quality of guards projected to go in the early second could determine where Cleveland plays next season. The Vikings are unlikely to trade up with Atlanta at four to get ahead of Cincinnati and draft top tackle, Penei Sewell, but could be tempted to move up for the combination of player and picks.

Assuming four of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance are selected by the time Carolina is on the clock at eight, the Vikings could make the move somewhere between the 8-10 range. Following the Classic Jimmy Johnson Valuation Model, the Minnesota Vikings could bundle picks 14 (1100 value) and pick 78 in the third round (200 point value) in exchange for the tenth pick from Dallas (1300 point value)

1 – Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson

2 – Jets: Zach Wilson, Quarterback, BYU

3 – 49ers: Mac Jones, Quarterback, Alabama

4 – Falcons: Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida

5 – Bengals: Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Oregon

6 – Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU

7 – Patriots (Trade with Lions): Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State

8 – Panthers: Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Penn State

9 – Broncos: Trey Lance, Quarterback, North Dakota State

10 – Vikings: Rashawn Slater, Offensive Tackle, Northwestern

In this scenario, I have Lawrence, Wilson, and Jones going as the first three picks in the Draft. After failing to find a trade pattern at four, the Falcons select Kyle Pitts, followed by Sewell to Cincinnati and Chase to Miami at six. The Patriots and Lions make the first trade at seven, allowing New England to select Fields and Carolina goes with the first defensive player selected at eight. Denver’s decision to take Lance at nine ends the quarterback frenzy and reduces asking prices.

The Cowboys enter the 2021 NFL Draft with the most glaring need at secondary and with Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, and Caleb Farley still on the board, decide to cash in on an additional pick and still get their guy at 14.

11 – Giants: Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama

12 – Eagles: Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina

13 – Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, Offensive Tackle, Virginia Tech

14 – Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback, Alabama

Rashawn Slater was a three-year starter for Northwestern, appearing at both tackle positions. While Slater opted out of the 2020 season, he earned All-Big Ten honors with the Wildcats and excelled when lined up against top college pass rushers during his career. Slater is an ideal zone blocking tackle for Kubiak’s new offense and will feature as the cornerstone in an offensive line rebuild.