Note: This article originally appeared on our nationally-themed site, FranchiseTagged.com.
With the fourteenth pick in the 2021 draft, the Minnesota Vikings select… We shall never know until Roger Goodell steps up onto that podium come time, April 29th. Fans will boo regardless; whether it be Goodell or the selection itself, booing will most certainly be present.
The Vikings—who are slated to pick at number 14—still have glaring needs on their roster. Most notably on the offensive line. Which Vikings fans, of course, know by now. What? You didn’t think the re-signing of Dakota Dozier alleviated the offense line’s symptoms, did you?
Until then, let’s examine fourteen potential prospects who could be available when the clock strikes Vikings. Of course, basic math suggests that at least one of these potential prospects will be available when the Vikings make their selection. That’s if Slick Rick doesn’t trade down. Experts around the league continue to sharpie the Vikings as a team destined to trade down.
A trade down might be the way to go, given they have yet to recoup a second-round pick. And we all know how much Spielman loves his second-rounders, well, maybe not as much as the seventh-rounders, but still. Besides, Spielman is batting a thousand in the second round, so a trade down would be logical. However, for this sake of today, we will assume the Vikings stay put and make a selection at pick number 14.
4 Potential Prospects: Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker (AVT), and Christian Darrisaw
No secret here. The biggest needs reside on the o-line itself. After grading out as the 28th-best pass-blocking unit in the NFL, the glaring need at the IOL positions shined ever so bright or rather dimly for that matter.
Sewell or Slater are without a doubt offensive linemen 1A and 1B. Both considered two blue-chip players in this year’s draft. Sewell, at just 20 years old, might get the edge at 1A here. If the Vikings wanted to make a run at Sewell, a trade-up might be needed, or better known as a rarity in the Spielman era.
As for Slater, his athleticism is off the charts. His highlight moment came in 2019 when he went mono e mono with Chase Young and even stymied the defensive rookie of the year. Some experts project Slater better fit at the guard position. Regardless, he will be plug-and-play for the Vikings, whether it be at LT or LG.
Scheme-wise, AVT, might be the man the Vikings have their eyes on. His experience at both guard and tackle may have Spielman salivating at the very thought. After all, NFL Draft expert Jordan Reid stated AVT could thrive in a zone-based blocking scheme or aka the scheme the Vikings employ.
4 Potential Prospects: Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Kyle Pitts
You might be laughing already. And that’s okay. The perception of Chase or Pitts falling seems unfathomable. But again, basic math suggests one of these prospects will be on the board when the Vikings are on the clock.
The thought of reuniting Chase with Justin Jefferson or injecting Pitts into this offense should have Viking fans, well, think of that Randy Marsh from South Park gif that you may or may not be familiar with. Same with Waddle or Smith.
Critics may point to Zimmer-led teams not deploying three-receiver sets. But never in his career will he have had 3 WR’s with the skill set of Thielen, Jefferson, and one of these potential rookies.
Simply put, the Vikings can either invest in ways to buy Kirk Cousins time in the pocket. Otherwise, they need to spend big on finding him another weapon. And guarantee at least someone will be open as the pocket crumbles around him or when Dozier ventures to sack him once again.
2 Potential Prospects: Patrick Surtain II and Jayce Horn
This one might surprise you. But, yes, a corner is a higher need than many expect. With Xavier Woods, Patrick Peterson, and Mackenzie Alexander all agreeing to one-year deals, 2022’s CB depth is already to set take a hit. Combined with recent news surrounding Jeff Gladney. It might be in the Viking’s best interest to address the CB early.
Horn certainly has the alpha mentality you want out of a CB. Surtain, on the other hand, is more of what you see is what you get type. Regardless, either will benefit from learning from Patrick Peterson (and Zimmer) and will avoid being thrown into the fire. Unlike last year’s rookies, Gladney and Dantzler, who were thrust into the rotation since day one.
2 Potential Prospects: Kwity Paye and Jaelen Phillips
Kwity Paye is by far the most mocked player to the Vikings. His biggest criticism is that he lacks polish and comfort as a pass-rusher. Enter Andre Patterson.
On the other hand, Philips is more polished with many moves in the arsenal but lacks in the run defense department. Keep in mind that Phillips has a nagging injury and concussion history that might shy him away from the Vikings.
But with the addition of Dalvin Tomlinson, there may not be as big of a need for a run-stopper in the short run. Regardless, both should be available when the Vikings select. Who, by the way, needs a defensive end opposite of Danielle Hunter. That is unless you think a rotation between Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum is enough to take down Aaron Rodgers and Co.
2 Potential Prospects: Justin Fields and Trey Lance
Time to plan for the future. Kirk Cousins is set to enter free agency in 2023 and certainly isn’t getting any younger. It’s time for the Vikings to start looking ahead. While it seems unlikely the Vikings elect to do so in the first round, relinquishing on either Fields or Lance might be too hard to pass up.
The idea of either taking a red-shirt year to learn behind Cousins may be precisely what the doctor ordered. And ultimately, set the franchise QB position for years to come.
With plenty of later round value in the offensive line, combined with the razor-thin depth of the defensive line, Spielman hands Zimmer the keys for this pick. Zimmer takes one look at the offensive line and immediately turns to his defense instead. Seeing the havoc a dynamic duo can be responsible for, Zimmer selects Kwity Paye, defensive end out of Michigan with the 14th overall pick. Giving him his edge-rushing duo for the foreseeable future.