MINNEAPOLIS - The NFL Draft is over, and the Minnesota Vikings have added 11 players and filled various needs over the three-day stretch.
For the second straight year, the Vikings had the largest draft class in the NFL after making a franchise record 15 picks last year. The Vikings did not end up moving back into the second round, despite having seven picks between the third and fourth rounds, which general manager Rick Spielman called "more than enough ammunition" after the first round Thursday night.
They gave up that pick before the 2020 season, trading it to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Yannick Ngakoue, who only played six games with Minnesota last season. They also didn’t make a seventh round pick this year, an area where Spielman has been known to draft depth in the past.
Here are takeaways from the Vikings’ draft, and where the team goes from here for the 2021 season, one that’s pivotal for both Spielman and Mike Zimmer after a 7-9 finish in 2020.
VIKINGS INVEST IN OFFENSIVE LINE
The Vikings made it a priority to get more physical at the line of scrimmage, drafting Christian Darrisaw at No. 23 in the first round after trading back from No. 14. They also got Wyatt Davis out of Ohio State with one of their four picks in the third round.
Both will have to come in and earn it, but both should be expected to start Week 1 for the Vikings. That means the offensive line will look something like Garrett Bradbury, Brian O’Neill, Ezra Cleveland, Darrisaw and Davis. The Vikings needed upgrades on the line, with Riley Reiff departing in the offseason and Kirk Cousins being sacked 107 times over the last three seasons. It should also help Dalvin Cook, who ran for more than 1,500 yards last season, in the run game.
WHAT DOES TAKING KELLEN MOND MEAN FOR KIRK COUSINS?
The Vikings added a quarterback in the third round, drafting Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M. Spielman made it clear there is no quarterback controversy and Cousins is the starter, but it’s also a signal that they might go in a new direction at quarterback two years from now. Cousins is under contract for two more seasons. Mond went 9-1 as a starter in 2020, throwing for nearly 2,300 yards and 19 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He was also the Senior Bowl MVP. He’s also mobile, running for about four yards per carry last season.
VIKINGS SELECT 3 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Without Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce on the defensive line, the Vikings had trouble stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback last season. Hunter and Pierce are back, and the Vikings added Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency. They also drafted Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II and defensive tackle Jalen Twyman, and Florida State defensive end Janarious Robinson. Only time will tell if the depth pays off for the Vikings on the defensive line.
VIKINGS DON’T SELECT ANY DEFENSIVE BACKS
Mike Zimmer loves coaching up defensive backs, so it’s a bit of a surprise the Vikings didn’t pick one in the NFL Draft. They did select Camryn Bynum out of California, and he’s expected to move to safety at Minnesota, joining a group that includes Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods. That leaves the current secondary at Cameron Dantzler, Mackensie Alexander, Patrick Peterson, Kris Boyd, Harrison Hand, Mike Hughes and Jeff Gladney. Hughes has battled injuries throughout his time with the Vikings, and Gladney’s status is up in the air due to legal issues away from football.
DO THE VIKINGS HAVE A THIRD WIDE RECEIVER?
What we know is the Vikings have a dynamic duo at wide receiver in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. The two combined for 162 catches, 2,325 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Jefferson set rookie franchise records for catches and yards. So who is the next guy in line? When it’s not Dalvin Cook out of the backfield, the options are tight end Irv Smith Jr., Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson.
It’s partly why they drafted Iowa receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round. He was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention after making 25 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns last season. He’s also an option as a kick returner on special teams.
Vikings 2021 Draft Class
1 - Christian Darrisaw – Virginia Tech OL
3 - Kellen Mond – Texas A&M QB
3 - Chazz Surratt – North Carolina LB
3 - Wyatt Davis – Ohio State OL
3 - Patrick Jones II – Pittsburgh DE
4 – Kene Nwangwu – Iowa State RB
4 – Camryn Bynum – Cal safety
4 – Janarius Robinson – Florida State DE
5 – Ihmir Smith-Marsette – Iowa WR
5 – Zach Davidson – Central Missouri TE
6 – Jalen Twyman – Pittsburgh DT