Yesterday for the Minnesota Vikings, it was the Kwity Paye show for mock drafts. Well, a day later — the discourse has shifted to the other side of the ball.
The Vikings are in dire need of help in the offensive trenches, unless the team has a magical in-house plan not yet disclosed to the masses. Under head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, Minnesota has a notorious history of piecemealing a patchwork offensive line — and hoping for the best. It never works out well.
So far in the offseason, 2021 looks no different — much to the chagrin of Vikings loyalists.
Last week, Spielman sent a 6th-Round draft pick from the 2021 draft to the Arizona Cardinals for center-guard, Mason Cole. It is not yet known if Cole is considered the solution at one of the guard spots — or if he is a rotational guy in the vain of Brett Jones from yesteryear.
Today, the dialogue [evidently] assumes that the Vikings have no immediate plans to sign any offensive line free agents. Why? Because Rashawn Slater, an offensive lineman from Northwestern, was mock-drafted to the Vikings by both Pro Football Network and CBS Sports on Tuesday.
For the PFN mock, Ben Rolfe says of Slater-to-Minnesota:
“The Vikings have the option of focusing on their defensive or offensive line. On the other hand, with Kirk Cousins set to be with the team through 2022, putting a stable offensive line in front of him is crucial. With intriguing depth at the defensive line position in the middle rounds, the Vikings target the leaner position and get one of the top offensive linemen in Rashawn Slater at No. 14.”
It is wildly accurate that protecting Cousins in 2021 will be crucial — because through three seasons with Cousins at the helm, the Vikings have done a miserable job with this task. Slater would shove Minnesota closer in the direction of allotting Cousins pocket time.
Notably in the PFN draft, the aforementioned Paye fell two spots below the Vikings — to the Buffalo Bills. Yet another circumstance of the Vikings and Bills fates intertwining.
On the CBS Sports mock authored by Pete Prisco, Slater as a Viking sounds like this:
“They let Riley Reiff go, which means they need a left tackle. Slater has some impressive tape from 2019, but he did opt out last year. He also could play guard if they want to play Ezra Cleveland at tackle.”
Here, Prisco hints at Slater as the starting left tackle for 2021. That would make the offensive line resemble this — assuming no other moves are made to shore the thing up.
(LT) Rashawn Slater, (LG) Mason Cole, ( C ) Garrett Bradbury, (RG) Ezra Cleveland, (RT) Brian O’Neill.
It’s up to you to decide if that’s suitable.
For Slater, on the whole, this is his scouting report per The Draft Network:
“Rashawn Slater is a scheme diverse and positional flexible prospect who should offer a little something to everyone depending on what specific needs and traits are prioritized for any given franchise. Slater, who opted out of the 2020 college season and has not played since the end of the 2019 campaign, is well regarded for his fundamentals and functional athleticism along the front. Slater manned the left tackle position for the Wildcats. For teams that don’t prioritize certain measurable thresholds, he appears to be a viable candidate to do the same in the NFL—based specifically on his work against 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in pass protection. But Slater’s ceiling is likely lowest on the edge and the further into the heart of the line he transitions, the higher his potential is to become a perennial Pro Bowl player and potential All-Pro candidate in my eyes. Slater has tremendous cutoff abilities and clean, patient footwork working space and the necessary functional strength to hold his own on the interior. The position flexibility he offers ensures he can be a part of any NFL offensive line’s combination of best five players to start up front from Day 1. “