In First and Only Mock Draft, Peter King Makes Pick for the Vikings
Peter King, a renowned NFL writing personality, is authoring just one mock draft this cycle. It’s under the banner of NBCSports, and the batch of predictions was released on Monday morning.
He scripts nothing outlandish through 13 picks before the Vikings are on the clock, although the Detroit Lions wound up with Penei Sewell, a left tackle from Oregon. That is not weird-weird — all things considered. Sewell is a tremendous talent and nearly every NFL team would be lucky to employ the man. But the Lions already have Taylor Decker at left tackle, a good young offensive lineman (PFF in 2020 = 82.0) entering his sixth season. Sewell to Detroit can be classified as a true-blue best player available selection.
So, Sewell isn’t heading to the Minnesota Vikings, at least not according to Peter King.
Yet, King keeps the Vikings in the same offensive-line arena. He sends Alijah Vera-Tucker to Minnesota with the 14th pick. Next to Kwity Paye, an EDGE rusher from the University of Michigan, Vera-Tucker is the second-most mock-drafted player to the Vikings in the 2021 NFL Draft.
King says this of Vera-Tucker and his selection by the Vikings:
“I believe I lead the Vikings’ chunk of my mock annually with this sentence: GM Rick Spielman really wants to trade down. Nothing new this year. Maybe he’ll find an aggressive taker if one of the receivers is still on the board. I had Jaelan Phillips here until making the switch Sunday mid-day. Lots of times, in mock-scienceville, you’re influenced by the last voice you hear. So I had Phillips until the last three people I texted with Sunday told me the need is too great on the Minnesota offensive line, and Vera-Tucker the person and prospect just too solid, and Phillips the person and prospect a little risky, and so I hit the delete button. Vera-Tucker, with 13 starts at guard and six at tackle, and was voted the top offensive lineman in the conference by his foes last year. Seems a very safe pick.”
This one is summed up aptly by King. In all likelihood, general manager Rick Spielman will wiggle a trade that sends Minnesota a handful of spots back in the 1st Round so that the Vikings can grab a 2nd-Round pick. That portion of the draft is Spielman’s bread-and-butter round. He polished Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Cook, and Brian O’Neill in this spot during the last five drafts — and that’s in addition to Irv Smith Jr. and Ezra Cleveland.
On Cleveland, the choice of Vera-Tucker probably moves the Boise State alumnus back to left tackle, which he played in college. There is also the chance that Vera-Tucker can anchor the left tackle position, but most draft heads peg the Trojan as a guard first and tackle secondarily.
Choosing Vera-Tucker in the 1st Round means that the Vikings will either start Mason Cole in 2021 — a player traded for a 6th-Round pick by the Arizona Cardinals — or the Spielman will sign a guard from free agency like Trai Turner or James Carpenter. The “encouraging” news derived from the Vera-Tucker pick? Well, the Vikings need just one starting offensive lineman. Right now, Spielman needs two unless Cole is the answer at right or left guard.
If the NFL draft was decided by blunt-force predictions, the Vikings would either welcome Vera-Tucker or Kwity Paye to the team. About half of all credible mock drafts send one of those men to the Vikings.
The draft will take place in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday night at 8:00 pm EST.