The Minnesota Vikings’ season is now over, which means that hope has been restored. It’s draft season! The Vikings landed the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, after the dust settled on week 17.
It’s not a great draft spot, but nobody thought pick 21 would bear Rookie of the Year fruit in 2020 either. Yet, here we are. The #14 pick doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s the earliest draft slot the Vikings have sat in since 2015, when they took Trae Waynes at #11. Anthony Barr was selected at #9 in 2014.
Justin Herbert x Justin Jefferson— ESPN (@espn) January 5, 2021
Two elite talents, but who do you have bringing home the NFL OROY award? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/XQe76Lksd0
2021 ‘It’s Never Too Early’ Mock Drafts
The NFL Draft is months away (April 29) but 2021 mocks are already running amuck across the internet. And if the “experts” are going to make the mock drafts, we might as well tally their picks for the Minnesota Vikings.
Now that the first 18 slots of the NFL draft are filled, media outlets are updating their mock draft boards to reflect the official order. Here are many of the mainstream mock drafts that have been updated since the season finished. Obviously, they all have the Vikings drafting at #14.
Notice any trends?
|SBNation||Patrick Surtain II||CB||Alabama|
|CBS Sports||Gregory Rousseau||EDGE||Miami (FL)|
|USA Today||Gregory Rousseau||EDGE||Miami (FL)|
|NBC Sports||Gregory Rousseau||EDGE||Miami (FL)|
|The Draft Network||Gregory Rousseau||EDGE||Miami (FL)|
|Bleacher Report||Daviyon Nixon||DT||Iowa|
EDGE rusher is the likely bet early
Given how bad the Minnesota Vikings pass rush was in 2020 (30th by ESPN in win-rate), plus the looming Danielle Hunter situation, it makes sense that edge would be a common position linked to #14 in early mock drafts.
Both Gregory Rousseau and Kwity Paye are high-ceiling EDGE rushers who are expected to be available from slots 10-15 in the first round. The first round looks like it will unfold in QB/WR-heavy way early, meaning the Vikings could get their pick of EDGE rushers.
This team still wants to be in “win now” mode and needs more talent added on defense. Expect an immediate impact player, which Rousseau and Paye should be.
Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami – The Favorite
The Vikings had an absolutely abysmal pass rush this past season, ranking 30th in league win rate (ESPN) and that was largely due to the lack of talent on the front-4. Danielle Hunter is set to return next year at one EDGE position and Gregory Rousseau would be a great Robin to Hunter’s Batman.
He’s massive, coming in at anywhere between 6-4; 260 lbs to 6-5; 275 lbs, depending on who you ask. He’s a freak of nature type talent that Mike Zimmer would love to add to his defense’ pass rush attack.
But, nobody was able to watch Rousseau play in 2020 because he opted out of playing this season with the Canes, choosing instead to prep for the draft. Could that make a difference? We may never know.
Or… maybe his replacement, if offseason relations between Hunter and the Vikings goes bad.
The Vikings are a team in transition after saying goodbye to some key veterans in recent years and restocking the roster through the draft. Minnesota is loaded with draft capital once again in 2021 and it’s important for the early picks to be used on high-upside prospects at premium positions. While Rousseau has plenty of room to improve technically to take advantage of his physical gifts, he’s a high-ceiling defensive lineman that has the potential to become a difference-maker in the NFL if everything comes together.Joe Marino – The Draft Network
Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan – The Early Underdog
In their most recent mock draft, Tankathon.com goes away from the other outlets listed above and have the Vikings taking (EDGE) Kwity Paye, out of Michigan over the consensus favorite, Gregory Rousseau. Tankathon isn’t the only outlet with that opinion.
Quick note: If you’re a Minnesota sports fan, Tankathon.com should really be bookmarked on your favorite device. It’s the only thing that keeps me going as the Vikings, Wolves, and Wild fall apart year after year.
Bleacher Report has also linked Paye to Minnesota recently. BR thinks he would be more of an immediate impact than Rousseau. The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid also believes Paye could give Rousseau a run for his money, as far as top EDGE rusher in this draft.
Here are highlight videos for both EDGE rushers above.
Cooper Carlson and Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan