The Minnesota Vikings are not currently holders of a left tackle that can be considered upper-echelon or even mid-tier.
Ezra Cleveland was drafted from Boise State at this time last year to play left tackle, but Minnesota already had one of those named Riley Reiff. So, head coach Mike Zimmer kicked Cleveland over to right guard, and the Vikings body politic is unsure if that move is permanent. If it is not, well, the Vikings need a starting left tackle for 2021. Rashod Hill would be the alternative, a player perceived as a reservist offensive lineman based on his resume to date. As for Reiff, he was released as a cap casualty in March and found a new home with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Should the Vikings draft a left tackle? Maybe?
Christian Darrisaw and Rashawn Slater could be available to the team with the 14th overall pick in the draft. According to scouting reports, both of those men would instantly fix the Vikings skimpiness at left tackle. Yet, the consensus is unclear as to whether general manager Rick Spielman will use his first pick on the offensive trenches.
If he does not, another solution is mandatory. And that might be Orlando Brown Jr. — a tackle from the Baltimore Ravens.
This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky theory. Brown is verifiably living inside the trade rumor mill. Per NFL.com, six teams are pursuing the mammoth Brown’s services. Look around at the landscape of the NFL. Not many teams are as deprived as the Vikings at left tackle through three weeks of April. If LT-hungry teams are nipping at trade talks for Brown, Minnesota is virtually guaranteed to be one of them.
Too, there is a steady pipeline for discourse between Minnesota and Baltimore. It’s because of the Ravens that the Vikings unloaded EDGE rusher Yannick Ngakoue last October, a desperation move by the Vikings to salvage an ill-fated trade. The Vikings and Ravens have exchanged pleasantries before — very recently — so they should be comfortable doing so in the quest for Brown.
Brown’s name feverishly arises for trade chatter.
On Tuesday, Bleacher Report‘s Maurice Moton power-ranked Brown as the most likely player to be traded during the 2021 NFL Draft. Moton did not conjure the idea via hearsay for clicks. Brown wants to play left tackle, and the Ravens have an outstanding one already in Ronnie Stanley. The 24-year-old Brown needs a franchise to accommodate his LT abilities. The Vikings are that.
Moton said of the imminent Brown trade:
“Last year, the Washington Football Team dealt Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers on the final day of the 2020 draft. Another star tackle could be on the move during this year’s selection process. After Orlando Brown Jr. filled in at left tackle for Ronnie Stanley, who broke his ankle, this past season, the 24-year-old made it clear that he wants to play the position full time. Back in October, the Baltimore Ravens signed Stanley to a five-year, $98.8 million extension, so they’re unlikely to move him out of his natural position, which leaves one clear solution. The front office must find a trade partner for Brown and insert a veteran pickup or a high draft pick at right tackle. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, at least six teams showed interest in Brown before free agency. As a proven commodity at a coveted position, Brown’s trade value should ramp up going into the draft. Teams that miss out on top prospects at the position or prefer a veteran pass protector will call the Ravens with competitive offers.”
This does have Trent Williams vibes — and the Vikings were front and center in those deliberations last year. Spielman missed out on the expensive Williams, thus plopping the team in “who’s the LT?” conversations, again, in 2021.
The other players on the likely-trade list include Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew II, Anthony Miller, and J.C. Jackson.
Moton foresees Brown ending up with the Chargers, but keep an eye on the Vikings. Also, if the Chargers are the winners of the Brown Sweepstakes — fine. That means a left tackle like Rashawn Slater has a better chance of falling to Minnesota. The Chargers pick one spot ahead of the Vikings at #13. Should they actionize Brown-to-Los-Angeles, they will not need Slater or Darrisaw.