Free agency hasn’t ended yet, but it seems like most of the big chips have fallen, and the Minnesota Vikings have spent all the extra cap space they had. They came into the period with a big problem at offensive line, and that same problem remains, aside from re-signing Rashod Hill and trading for Mason Cole.
Both guys can provide some depth on the line, but that’s about it. Neither will dramatically bolster the unit, and that’s really what Minnesota needs. For those who don’t want to see Kirk Cousins doing his best Road Runner impression next season, it’s time to turn towards the draft.
Conveniently, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. just released his Mock Draft 3.0, and he has the Vikings FINALLY addressing the offensive line.
He’s got them trading up five spots to pick ninth and drafting Oregon OT Penei Sewell in his mock. Before I go any further, take a look at who the Vikings would be getting.
The dude is a straight-up baller. He dominated as a two-year starter at Oregon, and very early mock drafts had him competing with the likes of Trevor Lawrence for the top overall pick. Since then, nothing has driven his value down. The 2021 quarterback class is just that good.
Sewell would normally be a top-3 pick in all reality, and the Vikings could plug him in right away at left tackle to make an impact. If Rick Spielman could pull it off, it’d be a home-run pick. But how does he make this happen?
You’re going to have to give up some draft capital to trade up into the Sewell range. Depending on the team, though, I think you could get away with giving up pick 14, a 2022 second-rounder, and a 2021 third-round pick. That may seem like a lot, but it would be well worth it considering what kind of prospect Sewell is.
He’s quick, has good technique, and is talented in the run and pass game. And oh, by the way, he’ll only be 20 on April 29. The Vikings haven’t had a franchise tackle since the Steve Hutchinson days, but Sewell could fill that void. Not only would he step in right away and likely be the best guy on the Vikings’ offensive line, but you’d have him on a rookie contract for four years.
Now I know many would say, why not just sit back on Rashawn Slater or Christian Darrisaw at your original pick and hold onto those draft picks? But I really believe the difference between them and Sewell is that wide. It’s not even like I’m getting on my Penei Sewell high horse either. Anybody who has seen the guy play and knows a lick of football can tell that he is a generational talent.
Back in December, in a conversation with Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr. said, “He’s a plug-and-play left tackle in the mold of Orlando Pace, Walter Jones, and Anthony Munoz. Yes, I’m saying he’s a Hall of Fame talent, and he’d be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in most other drafts.”
As a prospect, Sewell couldn’t have come at a better time for Minnesota, either. It’s been years of mediocre-to-horrid play on the line, and it doesn’t help when you have Cousins as your quarterback. That’s not a shot at Cousins. He’s not the type of guy who can make up for pass protection with his scrambling ability.
I honestly think making a pick like this could save Spielman’s job. As well as he’s done at times, it hasn’t been good enough, and this fanbase is tired of the excuses. He’s made some moves this offseason, but I’m not too sure he’s set the team up for success given the line situation. But making a move like this one could smooth over the qualms of fans and media alike while not compromising competitiveness.
It’s like when a kid gets assigned a massive school project a month in advance but refuses to work on it until the night before. It creates a boatload of issues and stress, but it works out every once in a while.
This is the case for Spielman, whose deadline to fix the o-line is approaching. It won’t be easy, but trading up for Sewell could earn Spielman a passing grade.