The Minnesota Vikings made trade inquires on Orlando Brown Jr. with the Baltimore Ravens, to no avail. The 24-year-old left tackle was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs in a transaction that nearly resembles the Stefon Diggs trade from 2020.
Full details: #Chiefs get:
Orland Brown, 2021 2nd and a 2022 6th rounder
Ravens get: 2021 1st, 3rd, 4th and 20221 5th
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2021
The Vikings did not have to surrender a 2nd-Rounder with the Diggs trade, but the rest of the deal is somewhat similar. Now, the Chiefs left side of the offensive trenches is fortified as the franchise likely has night sweats regarding what happened to Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV.
It’s debatable if this trade package was “worth it” for Brown. The sum is quite hefty. But something must be done for Minnesota to find a left tackle in the coming days or weeks.
Here are those scenarios.
Slater, Darrisaw, Cosmi, or Late Rounder
The Vikings will conveniently participate in an NFL draft six days from now, so the timing of missing out on Brown is navigable. Minnesota holds the 14th overall pick next Thursday night and can choose the best left tackle available — if they want it.
At this organic draft slot, Minnesota might get a crack at Rashawn Slater from Northwestern. He’s considered a “sure thing” (isn’t everybody?) but could be scooped by the Carolina Panthers or Los Angeles Chargers before seeing any mid-1st Round daylight. Yet, if he’s there for general manager Rick Spielman, Slater is a homerun that marries best player available and roster need. Justin Jefferson did the same for the Vikings at wide receiver in 2020.
Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech should be around, too, for Minnesota — unless the Chargers steal him at #13. His stock is quite as dazzling as Slater, but he isn’t too far away from stardom potential. Darrisaw is frequently mocked-drafted to the Vikings. Draft Wire sent Darrisaw to the Vikings earlier this week in a mock draft by Luke Easterling.
If not Slater or Darrisaw, then Minnesota is left with players like Samuel Cosmi, Alex Leatherwood, or “somebody else” from the 3rd Round or later. The latter is a dicey plan for a team devoid at left tackle.
Eric Fisher or Russell Okung
There is also the free-agent path. Alejandro Villanueva from the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely sign with the Baltimore Ravens — to replace Orlando Brown — leaving the Vikings with two palpable options on the wire. Those men are Eric Fisher and Russell Okung.
Fisher is the man who held Brown’s new job. The former Chief started 113 games in eight years for Kansas City. He was ruthlessly beset by an Achilles tear during the 2020 playoffs — a humongous reason why the Chiefs offensive line was so trashy when the Tampa Bay Buccanneers ripped them apart in February. The Vikings would have to mitigate Fisher’s injury recovery, but his addition to the team would generate excitement.
The outspoken Okung is also available. The 32-year-old has played for four NFL teams while accruing two Pro Bowl selections. His 2019 and 2020 campaigns were peppered with injury, and Okung has only played 16 games in a season once in his life (2016 with Denver).
But that’s about it for free agency. The options are puny after Fisher and Okung.
“As-is” would generate massive eye rolls by Vikings fans. Should Spielman draft no startable left tackle nor sign Fisher or Okung, then Ezra Cleveland is heading back to his left tackle spot from college. And, who knows, perhaps that has been the plan all offseason. Although, no member of the Vikings brass has mentioned it.
In theory, the Vikings could select Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC — a man mock-drafted to Minnesota virtually every day — and roll with Cleveland at left tackle as he played at Boise State. That would leave an offensive line, from left to right, of Ezra Cleveland, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Garretty Bradbury, Mason Cole, and Brian O’Neill.
That teeters on exciting and “let’s hope this works.” The wildcard is Mason Cole — folks don’t know if Cole is a starting solution at guard.
The stakes are high. Minnesota must reach the postseason for head coach Mike Zimmer to have assured job security in 2022. Brown heading to Missouri should be perceived as a clue that Spielman will find a left tackle early in the draft — or that Fisher/Okung is on the way.