Round one of the 2021 NFL draft is near, in fact, eight days near. Most mocks continue to remain repetitive and even bland at this point—very few suggesting anything but the Vikings solidifying the trenches.
Sure, some might throw in the occasional CB, or once in a blue moon, a QB might even be the selection. But otherwise, draft experts appear to be in consensus with the Vikings: they will select a lineman. Whether it’s offensive or defensive remains a coin flip.
This time, McShay and Kiper took a stab at it with nine days to go until the NFL Draft.
Unlike most mocks, two of the most respected draft minds made their predictions based on what they would do with the pick, rather than predicting what the team would do.
Using their personal rankings of each player combined with what they believed to be a mix of best player available and team needs.
Kiper and McShay ultimately put together a three-round mock draft and even were kind enough to include their very own NFL Draft Day Predictor, which predicts the chances the player is available in that slot. Flex harder.
As for the Vikings, they do not currently own a second-round pick. However, they still hold three picks in the first three rounds (14, 78, and 90).
With the fourteenth pick, McShay stuck to the norm and penciled Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC, onto the draft card.
McShay’s rationale was as follows:
There are holes all over the Vikings’ line, and Vera-Tucker has versatility — though his best fit is at guard. He’s a strong blocker at the second level, which will help open lanes for Dalvin Cook in the running game.
McShay also predicts an 87.4% percent chance AVT is on the board when the clock strikes Vikings.
AVT is unquestionably a name you’d want to know come time April 29th, given his vast popularity in Viking mock drafts. In case you are unfamiliar with Vera-Tucker’s work, here is the scouting report from draft expert Jordan Reid and Co:
Alijah Vera-Tucker has aligned predominantly at left tackle this season for the Trojans offense. He has exceptional athleticism, as evidenced by his balance and body control in his pass set. He is an easy mover who demonstrates his athleticism in the passing game, particularly in his kick slide. He plays with very good competitiveness when he is bull rushed. In the run game, he comes off the ball hard to strike and he excels by getting his body in favorable positions. He’s played this year at left tackle, affording him much more value due to his ability to play that position in a pinch at the next level.
AVT’s exceptional athleticism and versatility may have Rick Spielman and Dennison drooling over him. He projects to be best suited as an LG in a zone-blocking scheme.
This just so happens to be precisely what the Vikings are looking for.
The NFL Draft Day Predictor of 87.4% is also noteworthy. Given Slick Rick’s history of trading down. He may be able to recoup some picks and still land AVT.
As for the 78th overall pick, McShay selected Payton Turner, a DE out of Houston, onto the Viking’s player ledger.
Minnesota’s 23 sacks ranked in the bottom five in 2020, and Turner has the strength to drive back blockers and get to the QB. He’d likely play a rotational role early in his career but should develop into a reliable starter.
The Draft Network lists Turner’s ideal role as a base end that gets chances to rush on the interior on long and late downs.
Could we see a Turner in a possible stand-up pass rusher role on third downs, similar to what we saw Everson Griffen do in his final year?
The idea of a rotational role is enticing. Andre Patterson could be patient with Turner while he rotates him in with Weatherly and Wonnum. But if Patterson can work his magic once more, it would surely put Weatherly and Wonnum on borrowed time for the starting role opposite of Danielle Hunter.
McShay was in charge of the Viking’s 90th overall pick and selected Richard LeCounte, safety, out of Georgia.
This pick gives the Vikings much-needed flexibility with the safety position in 2022. Like McShay mentioned, Smith is already 32 and could only have few good years left.
Planning for the future may be the right call here. LeCounte would have the added benefit from learning behind two future HOF’s (Smith and P. Peterson) and a well-respected veteran in Xavier Woods.
All in all, McShay filled three massive holes for the team when selecting based on what he would do. Should McShay be granted his wish, the Viking’s trenches will undoubtedly be solidified come time week one.