The 2021 NFL Draft continues to get closer, ladies and gentlemen, and soon we’ll know the names of a group of young men that have been called forth to be the newest members of the Minnesota Vikings. We all have players that we’d like the Vikings to pick, whether it’s a big name that they’ll take early on or someone that’s more of a sleeper that they can take on Day Two or even Day Three.
We call these players “draft crushes,” and everyone has them. It’s okay to admit it, and that’s what we want everyone to do here. We want to hear who your draft crush is and why you want the Vikings to grab them.
For me, I’m going to go with a guy that the Vikings can probably get early on Day Three with one of their fourth-round selections. . .well, the selections they have right now, anyway. I know that the Vikings signed Dalvin Tomlinson this offseason and they have Michael Pierce coming back after he opted out for a year, but my draft crush is another big guy that could fit right in with those two guys.
That guy is BYU defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga.
We know how much of an issue stopping the run was for the Vikings last year, and Tonga is the sort of guy that could help to put a stop to that pretty much immediately as part of a rotation. He’s a big guy, checking in at 6’4” and around 320 pounds, and anyone that’s been around the community for a while knows that I’m a fan of the big dudes. . .the “hosses,” if you will. I think getting an opportunity to work with Andre Patterson could help him develop his pass rush skills a bit, but even if he isn’t ever anything more than a run-stopper he’s a guy that could make an impact.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Tonga as his 16th-ranked interior defensive lineman and has him tabbed as a sixth-round pick. I think he might go a little higher than that, but lord knows I’ve been wrong before. Here’s his assessment of Tonga:
An aggressive space-eater, Tonga is active in the trenches with his slanting quickness and upper-body strength to shed/toss blockers. He improved his conditioning and chase skills over the years, but his pad level and anchor need to develop better consistency. Overall, Tonga will face limitations on third down in the NFL, but he is powerful with his hands and creates congestion at the line of scrimmage. He projects as a rotational nose prospect.
Like I said earlier in the piece, the Vikings need to solidify themselves up front, and a guy like Tonga could be someone that could be a situational/short-yardage guy to start with and gradually become a bigger part of the defense over time.
That’s my draft crush, folks. Who’s the one guy that you really hope the Vikings manage to get their hands on when the draft commences in 13 days?