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NFL Draft

Minnesota Vikings 2021 NFL Draft Class Breakdown

  • The Draft Network
  • May 5, 2021
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After a disappointing 7-9 record to finish out the 2020 season that included a third-place finish in the division, the Vikings were aiming to once again improve in the trenches. With clear holes along both the offensive and defensive lines as well as on the second and third level of the defense, the team added what it needed in order to get back in contention in the NFC North.

Let’s take a look back at their 2021 NFL Draft class:

Round 1: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

With a clear hole at left tackle, questions surfaced about whether or not if Brian O’Neill or Ezra Cleveland would transition to protect the blindside of Kirk Cousins. Neither came to fruition as the team traded back nine spots. Settling into the No. 23 overall pick while also recouping two extra third-round picks from the Jets, the franchise found its next starting left tackle. Darrisaw is a three-year starter that has only played on the left side. He will be penciled in as the starter from Day 1 to provide a promising duo of bookends for the offense moving forward

Round 3: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' selection of Kyle Trask to round out the second round began a run on the second tier of quarterbacks. At the top of the third round, the team finally invested in a young signal-caller prior to Day 3 and undrafted free agency. Possessing a large sample size, Mond started in 44 of the 47 career games that he played in. Sitting atop nearly every record in Texas A&M history, he rightfully goes to a situation where he can sit behind an experienced veteran while fine-tuning some of the mechanical aspects of his game that will need tweaking. A bit of a stiff, high elbow, and upright thrower, playing looser and blending his consistent stretches will be areas that will need to be addressed. Consistently inconsistent is a phrase often used to describe Mond, as he has stretches of play where he looked like a top-50 pick while there were others where he looked like a borderline draftable player. Regardless, with Cousins set to count $45 million against the cap in 2022, Mond was a worthy lottery ticket to invest in. 

Round 3: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

Prioritizing the second level of the defense has always been precious to general manager Rick Spielman as he has two of the highest-paid linebackers in the league in Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. An underrated loss this offseason, though, was Eric Wilson. A serviceable fill-in during Barr’s absence after suffering a torn pec last season, he was a high-energy and disciplined player that was a mainstay on special teams. In a similar mold, Surratt will be expected to fill that void moving forward. Surratt is likely a weakside linebacker at the next level, but he has shown lots of promise in only his second season playing the position after spending his first two at quarterback.

Round 3: Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State

After the selection of Darrisaw on the first night of the draft, the team continued to remake the left side of its offensive line. Selecting Davis brought joy from many as this pairing is one that surfaced in the first round of many mock drafts last fall. Desperately needing an upgrade from Dakota Dozier, Davis brings a nasty and sturdy blocker who projects as a starter immediately at either guard spot

Round 3: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, PITT

In years past, the franchise hasn’t been shy about taking chances on athletic but raw edge rushers. Lacking depth off of the edge, the first of two selections at the position was utilized on Jones. A constant pressure creator, Jones is quick out of the starting blocks, but has some improvements that need to be made with his hands and cornering to finish at the quarterback. With a known talent developer in co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in Andre Patterson, Jones is his next pupil to hopefully improve after being under Patterson’s tutelage. 

Round 4: Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State

The Vikings haven’t been shy about taking chances on analytically driven picks at running back during the second or third day of the draft. Dalvin Cook, Jerick McKinnon, Mike Boone, Alexander Mattison, and now Nwangwu. After only collecting 144 carries during his career with the Cyclones, Nwangwu was stuck behind two proven rushers in David Montgomery and Breece Hall. His explosiveness was not hidden, though, and although he never recorded more than 350 rushing yards in a single season, his value came as a kick returner. He ended his career in Ames with 2,470 kickoff return yards, which broke the record for the most in program history. His workload in the backfield is expected to be minimal considering what the team is returning, but he could rival Ameer Abdullah and create an interesting competition for the third running back spot behind Cook and Mattison.

Round 4: Camryn Bynum, SAF, Cal

With their second fourth-round pick, the team selected Bynum. After spending all of his career at Cal as a corner, he was announced as a safety. Considering the lack of depth at the position following the loss of Anthony Harris to the Eagles, the franchise was in dire need of a young player at the position. Spielman mentioned that they were able to evaluate Bynum as a safety at the Senior Bowl, which was his first exposure to the position. The only player from Cal to hear his name called, Bynum has the potential to be a depth piece moving forward.

Round 5: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

Having a top-heavy receiver depth chart in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, the Vikings lacked depth after that point. Wanting to provide competition for players such as Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson, Smith-Marsette brings a different element that the receiving corps was lacking. Deep speed is a trait that hasn’t been incorporated as much as it could’ve been in previous years, but now with the former Hawkeye pass-catcher in the fold, there’s a possible pathway for him to develop into the team's No. 3 wide receiver by season's end.

Round 6: Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri

The first Division II player selected by the team this year, Davidson was one of the more unique prospects of the 2021 class. Not only did he handle his usual tight end duties, but he also served as the team's punter. His final season with Central Missouri was his best, as he recorded 894 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. After spending time with him at his pro day, the Vikings came back with glowing reviews about him and his potential. With long-time veteran Kyle Rudolph now out of the picture, Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin, and Brandon Dillon remain as the three players at the position. Davidson will be expected to compete with Dillon immediately.

Round 6: Jaylen Twyman, IDL, PITT

Prior to opting out of the 2020 season, Twyman was expected to be one of the more respectable names in the ACC. Fresh off of a season in which he recorded a team-high 10.5 sack, many were anticipating Twyman to be one of the top interior defenders of this draft class. Opting out, an underwhelming pro day, and with it being so long since we saw him last take meaningful snaps all resulted in a considerable tumble to the sixth round. Needing an explosive 3-technique, the team took a rightful swing on Twyman despite so many variables. Getting his weight back down could do him justice as he attempts to crack a rotation that has spots for a rookie to step in and see meaningful snaps.

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