Coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft with 11 selections, the Minnesota Vikings set out to improve upon their 2020 season while also having an eye towards building for the future. Their NFC North-leading draft selections should help accomplish both of those elements, and they could potentially turn this year’s class into immediate help in a division that could see Aaron Rodgers depart.
Six selections went towards addressing their offense and five were used on defensive players, so general manager Rick Spielman and his team of evaluators worked the board and got their players. Here are the grades for all 11 selections the Vikings made:
No. 23 Overall: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech – A
After trading back from the 14th overall selection with the New York Jets, the Vikings did not make their first selection of the 2021 NFL Draft until the 23rd pick. After sending the 14th and the 143rd pick, they received the 23rd, 66th and 86th picks from the Jets, helping stock up their top-100 allotments.
Offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, frequently seen as the second-or-third best tackle prospect in this year’s draft behind Penei Sewell and alongside Rashawn Slater, fell to the Vikings and was an outstanding value selection that late. With the potential for Darrisaw to have gone in the Top 12, the VT product is an immediate plug-and-play option on this team’s OL and should help keep Kirk Cousins upright and Dalvin Cook efficient and healthy.
Even with the reports that the Vikings were considering taking QB Justin Fields if they had remained at 14 and if the Bears had not jumped up to 11th to take him, getting Darrisaw and two additional early picks made a ton of sense.
No. 66 Overall: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M – B-
Grabbing what projects to be the signal-caller of the future in Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond was an interesting usage of the Vikings’ second selection. Not having a second-round pick to their name after trading it away, they were a part of a mini run of QB’s in the third round–which involved Kyle Trask (TB) and Davis Mills (HOU) going off the board around the same time.
Mond projects well into the league, having played in a collegiate scheme that involves transferable elements that can help his progression. But there are reasons that he was a part of the second-tier crop of QBs, and that gap may provide Cousins with enough leeway to hold onto the starting job for two to three seasons before seriously being challenged.