2021 Draft Chronicles: Living and Dying With the Vikings On Day 1

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USA TODAY Sports)

Our favorite time of the year has arrived. Thirty-two fan bases will be glued to their television sets (or streaming devices) for the 2021 NFL Draft. Each one has a unique set of hopes and dreams.

For the Minnesota Vikings, it’s a fork in the road.

They have a choice coming into this year’s draft. The Vikings could go with the safe pick and select an offensive or defensive lineman to compete for the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC. Or they could kick the door down, trade up for a quarterback and drop the mic on the rest of the NFC North. With Aaron Rodgers’ future up in the air, the Vikings have a major opportunity on draft night.

It’s a perfect place for the 2021 NFL Draft Chronicles to begin.

6:45 p.m. – With all the events that have happened today, I am happy to be cracking my first beverage of the evening. The day started with a rumor that the San Francisco 49ers offered Jimmy Garoppolo, the No. 3 overall pick, a truckload of draft picks, and probably half their roster for Rodgers.

Even though Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay with a level of hatred typically reserved for his family, the Packers said no.

This is a big moment for the Vikings, who likely see their opening to win the NFC North. With a 10-7 season in sight, Zimmer is probably standing on the draft table screaming how a defensive end could be what pushes them over the top. Rick Spielman likely thinks an offensive lineman will work. Andy Dalton has to be terrified right now.

7:10 p.m. – The camera cuts to Kings of Leon, who are in the final minutes of a 30-minute version of “Use Somebody.” This tune was the go-to slow dance song across middle school gymnasiums across the country back in 2008. I’m wondering if Hinder is about to drop “Lips of An Angel” next.

7:16 p.m. – The NFL Draft gets underway, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock. The Jags are writing a new chapter with Urban Meyer taking over as head coach. Meyer will feign a heart attack to take over for Nick Saban at Alabama two years from now. In the meantime, he’ll get to coach the most heralded quarterback prospect in recent memory, Trevor Lawrence.

7:26 p.m. – The Jaguars build suspense, waiting a full 10 minutes before selecting Lawrence. One of the most obvious No. 1 selections in recent memory will play for a North Florida fan base that would rather watch college football.

7:33 p.m. – The New York Jets make it 2-for-2 in my mock draft by taking Zach Wilson. He looks like he took a wrong turn heading to the prom that Kings of Leon was supposed to be performing at. Regardless, Wilson has a cannon of an arm and has been compared to Patrick Mahomes. Chances are, he is not Patrick Mahomes.

7:37 p.m. – The San Francisco 49ers are now on the clock. Rumors have been swirling about what the Niners will do here, but they said they like Five Guys at 3. That’s a smokescreen. There’s no way they’re passing on Culver’s. The toppings are better. It’s cheesier, and it doesn’t cost 15 bucks with some soggy fries. AND HAVE YOU HAD THE PRETZEL BITES WITH CHEESE!?!?!

7:42 p.m. – The 49ers select Trey Lance. If you haven’t heard, he’s from Minnesota. Also, P.J. Fleck wanted to put him at safety. Good thing he stayed at quarterback.

7:47 p.m. – The draft is getting interesting as the Atlanta Falcons make their pick. After shopping the selection for a quarterback-needy team, Atlanta decides to take the best offensive player in the draft, Kyle Pitts. The former Gator is a 6-foot-6 monster who will help the Falcons build an even bigger lead to blow in the fourth quarter.

7:56 p.m. – The Cincinnati Bengals get Joe Burrow a weapon by taking Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall. Somewhere, Rodgers is jealous.

8:04 p.m. – The Miami Dolphins have selected Jaylen Waddle. There are several JAY-lens in this draft by pronunciation, but all of them are spelled differently. The Detroit Lions are on the clock with all offensive tackles on the board along with Justin Fields.

8:07 p.m. – After a clip of the Lions draft room shouting and hugging, I assume they took a kneecap-biting fullback. Instead, they take Penei Sewell, who is regarded as the top offensive tackle on the board. Justin Fields is still on the board. Where are you, Rick?

8:17 p.m. – The Carolina Panthers take the entire 10 minutes and select Jaycee Horn. I assume Zimmer is inconsolable by not getting the top corner on the board. Meanwhile, Justin Fields is STILL available. I am sweating bullets to see if “Trader Rick” is going to show up.

8:27 p.m. – The Denver Broncos select Patrick Surtain II. I am so surprised by this pick that my fingers even typed “Justin Fields.” The next four teams don’t need a quarterback, but there’s a chance they could shock everyone. It’s time to call Jerry Jones.

8:31 p.m. – The Philadelphia Eagles just traded up to pick No. 10. My heart has literally dropped to the floor. That team took away my soul in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. They can’t take my quarterback.

8:37 p.m. – The Eagles take DeVonta Smith. After three months of speculation, NFL evaluators aren’t sure that he’s good at football. Throwing on Smith’s tape from the national championship game, it reminds me of Justin Jefferson destroying Oklahoma in a CFP semifinal. Smith is good at football, and Justin Fields is still on the board.

8:40 p.m. – The Bears traded up…and they select Justin Fields. I am dead inside.

9:08 p.m. – After calling my mom to “let it all out,” I return to see that Rashawn Slater is off the board and the Vikings trade down from 14. Instead of getting the Jets second-rounder, the Vikings get more third-rounders, which Spielman is trying to collect like Thanos collects infinity stones.

10:04 p.m. – Potential Vikings targets have flown off the board in a hurry as I continue to sink into a depressive state reserved for playoff losses. Alijah Vera-Tucker was drafted with the pick the Vikings traded away. Jaelan Philips went 18th overall to the Miami Dolphins. Kwity Paye went 21st overall to the Indianapolis Colts.

When the Vikings finally get on the clock at pick No. 23, they select offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. It’s not a terrible pick, but I have several issues with it.

The biggest problem with this team is that they seem content to go 10-7. Will Darrisaw provide a boost to the offensive line? You bet. Is he going to stop Kirk Cousins from trying to impale linebackers with the football? Not really.

The Vikings had a chance to make a seismic move in the NFC North by giving up the 78th overall pick to get Justin Fields at No. 10 overall but didn’t. There’s a chance Fields will bust, and the Bears will be left scrambling for a quarterback again, but it just feels like it’s a minimal move to just be good enough to get blasted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card round.

10:47 p.m. – The picks continue to fly by as I wonder what could have been. I start playing “Black” by Pearl Jam on repeat. The last time I did this was during the 2017 NFC Championship Game. The Baltimore Ravens select Rashod Bateman, and I am thrilled he’s not going to the Packers and becoming Minnesota’s version of Harvey Dent.

11:05 p.m. – The world champion Buccaneers select Joe Tryon with the final pick of the first round. I am dejected and have a bruised ego. Maybe they’ll take a corner tomorrow and really put the pressure on the Bears for that final playoff spot.

11:07 p.m. – Zzzzzzzzz.

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Free-Agent Options Remain if Vikings Want to Continue Bolstering O-Line

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USA TODAY Sports)

After adding Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis in the draft, there isn’t much room—or need—for additional offensive line personnel. That said, there are a few cost-effective options still on the board who could provide depth and insurance for what looks to be a vastly improved unit.

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