It is officially Mock Draft season, folks. Lord knows we’re going to get enough of these over the course of the next three months or so, but since there’s not a whole lot else going on in the world of the Minnesota Vikings, we can start taking a look around at what the experts are thinking for the purple.
We generally know that it’s Mock Draft season when the two guys from ESPN start dropping mocks. They’ve done that behind the great E$PN paywall, so let’s take a look at the thoughts of Todd McShay and Mel Kiper. . .dramatic pause. . .draft expert.
We’ll start with McShay and, not surprisingly, he’s got the Vikings looking along the offensive line. He’s tabbed Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw to the Vikings at #14 overall.
Ezra Cleveland, last year’s second-rounder, has helped the offensive line, but the Vikings still need a dominant tackle. They were one of 12 teams that allowed quarterback pressure on at least 30% of their dropbacks. Darrisaw is a talented left tackle who has power as a pass protector and can get to the second level to help block for Dalvin Cook in Minnesota’s zone run schemes. Other possibilities might include pass-rush aid — the Vikings had the fifth-fewest sacks in 2020 with 23 — or a safety.
The Vikings taking a tackle like Darrisaw at #14 would suggest that Cleveland is not, in fact, the left tackle of the future and that they’d likely be leaving him inside at guard. Not sure how much I like that idea, but it’s not as if Mike Zimmer and company are going to listen to me.
Kiper’s Mock Draft also has the Vikings grabbing an offensive lineman, but he’s got a different name coming off the board at #14 in the form of Southern Cal offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Speaking of rising prospects, Vera-Tucker has scouts around the league buzzing after a tremendous season. He moved from guard to left tackle and dominated for the Trojans. At 6-4, 315 pounds, he could play either position at the next level. The Vikings must solidify their offensive line around Kirk Cousins, even after spending second-round picks on Ezra Cleveland (2020) and Brian O’Neill (2018) in recent years, and Vera-Tucker could be the long-term answer on the left side of the line. Cousins plays best when his running game is humming, and Vera-Tucker is a great run-blocker.
Honestly, though, run blocking isn’t the problem for the Vikings. They’ve got the run blocking thing down pretty cold at this point. The issue is when they’re asked to pass block. It would be nice to get someone that addresses that problem instead. I believe in this scenario, though, Cleveland would kick out to left tackle (assuming that the Vikings cut ties with Riley Reiff) and Vera-Tucker would slot in on the inside somewhere.
What do you think of the first mocks from Kiper and McShay and what they have our favorite team doing at #14, folks?