The Carson Wentz trade last week changed the landscape of the NFL and will have an undeniable impact on the draft. While no first-round picks for 2021 changed hands, the holes Wentz fills for the Indianapolis Colts could impact the Minnesota Vikings’ strategy. More importantly, his loss impacts the Philadelphia Eagles, who could still look to add a quarterback despite starting Jalen Hurts for four games last year.
I decided to see how it might play out in my third iteration of a seven-round mock draft on Pro Football Network’s draft simulator.
Pick 14: Trade
While I could have stayed at 14 and picked any offensive lineman not named Penei Sewell at this spot, the Indianapolis Colts offered me way too much to pass on. They offered me picks 21, 54, and their fourth rounder next year to move up seven spots.
The draft will be more unpredictable than ever this year. The combine was cancelled and many key players opted out last season, which will meaningfully impact the board. I want as many chances as I can get to take high-level contributors, and I’m willing to move into the later half of the first if I can net a second in the trade.
Pick 21: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
I understand that the offensive line is a need that general manager Rick Spielman and the front office have often neglected, but I’m not going to force a pick here. While I could take Alijah Vera-Tucker, and he’s probably the best guard prospect in the draft, I am going to take the best player available.
Barmore will instantly start at 3-technique for the Vikings. He’s a high-ceiling player at a position that Jaleel Johnson and Shemar Stephen have struggled in recently. The Vikings’ defensive line was ineffective this season. While Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce returning will help, it needs to be supplemented.
If you want to see what Barmore can bring to the table, look no further than his tape from the National Championship game against Ohio State, where he single-handedly wrecked the game on the front. This performance earned him defensive player of the game. He should fit in nicely with the Vikings’ revamped defensive line.
Pick 54: Richie Grant, S, UCF
Hear me out before you lose your cool. While getting an offensive lineman who can strengthen the weakest unit of the team is still a priority, I can’t overlook another hole on the team. I can get good value here instead of reaching for a lineman.
The Vikings probably won’t bring Anthony Harris back after his mediocre 2020 season, and finding a quality partner for Harrison Smith is imperative. While Smith played well deeper in coverage to help the young secondary, his more natural role is closer to the line of scrimmage.
Grant is an excellent coverage safety who loves to play single-high in center field, taking away anything deep and over the middle. He has excellent ball skills and is always around the play. He can also play man coverage when tasked with guarding players in the slot. While he sometimes has trouble bringing the ball carrier down, I still think he is the best pick here.
Pick 78: Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Remember earlier when I mentioned that opt-outs and the lack of a combine could cause players to fall? Well, meet Walker Little, the prime example.
After being named the PAC-12’s Co-Freshman of the Year in 2017 and making the All-PAC-12 team the following season, things have been rough for Little. He suffered a season-ending injury early in the 2018 season and opted out last year to focus on the draft. This two-season absence has dropped Little from a consensus first-round pick to a potential mid-round selection.
At 6’7″, 320 lbs., Little’s last name is deceiving. While Riley Reiff figures to be the left tackle going into next season, Little’s presence could force Reiff to take a pay cut because he won’t want to test a market that is already limited due to the decrease in the salary cap.
While Little won’t start if Reiff comes back, the Vikings shouldn’t miss this opportunity to grab a first-round-caliber tackle with a third-round pick.
Pick 90: Quinn Meinerz, OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater
We all know the Vikings have a major weakness at left guard. The likes of Dru Samia, Dakota Dozier, and Pat Eflein didn’t cut it there. This is the perfect spot for me to double up on offensive linemen and hopefully find the Vikings’ left guard of the future.
I know Meinerz doesn’t have the athleticism to be a perfect fit in the zone scheme, but at some point, you have to take the best lineman available. We saw how well the Samia pick turned out, and he was supposed to be a perfect fit for the scheme.
Meinerz caught the eye of many scouts when he showed his ability to win reps at the Senior Bowl against elite interior pass rushers. He’s a bully who will excel in pass protection with brute strength, and should help keep quarterback Kirk Cousins upright. He will hopefully replace Dozier to help form an emerging interior offensive line.
Pick 119: Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
The Vikings need a third receiver. Chad Beebe is an RFA and Bisi Johnson struggled in his second season.
Atwell could be their WR3.
He’s only 5’9″, but Atwell possesses incredible speed and was hard to contain during his time at Louisville. He could serve as the Vikings’ primary deep threat, taking advantage of all of the attention both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson draw from opposing defenses and beating them over the top.
Atwell can also take end-arounds and jet sweeps. He’s always a threat to break a play with his elite speed and impressive vision. I think his addition to this team will immediately help Cousins and the offense.
Pick 125: Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
Imagine what Mike Zimmer’s ideal corner looks like: an explosive athlete with long arms who has ball skills and the ability to play press-man successfully.
Robert Rochell from Central Arkansas is that guy.
Standing at 6’1″, Rochell could be the perfect partner for Cameron Dantzler on the outside in nickel packages when Jeff Gladney kicks into the slot. He should see a lot of playing time given the number of teams that run their base personnel with three wideouts.
Rochell will need to improve at cutting the amount of separation he allows at the top of the route. He could be used in a rotational role with Mike Hughes and Kris Boyd early on as he finds his footing.
Pick 134: Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke
I have already highlighted how poor the Vikings’ defensive line was when I took Christian Barmore in the first round. While Barmore will be a welcome addition to the line, it will take more than just him to return that unit to form.
Dimukeje doesn’t have one elite skill, but he is good enough at everything he does to be useful. The Vikings will likely part ways with Jalen Holmes this offseason, and they might not be able to bring back Ifeadi Odenigbo. Depth on the defensive line and the ability to keep pass rushers fresh is very important, as evidenced by the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017. I am willing to take a high-floor, low-ceiling player here to contribute early to the team.
Pick 143: Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia
With Barr’s contract eating into a larger part of the salary cap over time, it might be time to start grabbing linebackers who could potentially replace him in the future.
Fields became the green-dot linebacker at West Virginia and showcased an impressive mix of patience and athleticism in making plays all over the field. He can probably compete for the third linebacker spot next season or become an important member of the special teams unit.
Pick 158: Dazz Newsome, WR, UNC
Considering the depth of the wideout class at hand, I figured it would be a good idea to take yet another swing at landing a receiver in the later rounds who can potentially grow into a more important role.
Newsome is an incredibly precise route runner with great ball skills and hands. That should all translate to the next level. He also is a great punt returner who could potentially supplant both K.J. Osborn and Beebe.
UNC limited what routes both he and Dyami Brown ran, so he will need to expand his route tree. If he can adapt to the NFL playbook, he has the ability to become one of the better slot wideouts in the league.
Pick 172: Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan
Looking ahead at both the salary cap and the impending free agents next season, I noticed that signing star right tackle Brian O’Neill isn’t a guarantee even though it should be the No. 1 priority.
Jaylon Moore impressed at the Senior Bowl, showing that he can compete with players from these bigger schools when he was manning the right tackle position.
Moore will need to add some strength and work on his technique at the NFL level, but with his athleticism, he could be a perfect fit in the zone blocking scheme the Vikings run. He could eventually take over Rashod Hill‘s role as the swing tackle and serve as reliable injury depth.
Pick 201: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
The Vikings’ offense has been a bit bland despite being productive last season. They could look to take a piece out of the New Orleans Saints’ playbook and draft their own Taysom Hill.
His accuracy is questionable, but he is a powerful and competitive runner who the Vikings could use on option plays with Dalvin Cook. While Ehlinger probably isn’t a threat to take any snaps away from Kirk Cousins anytime soon, it would be good to have a dual-threat quarterback who they could use at a variety of positions in the future.
Pick 222: Jose Borregales, K, Miami
Dan Bailey‘s last half of the season opened the door for the Vikings to replace him. After his abysmal 0-for-4 performance at Tampa Bay and hitting a career-low 86% extra points, it might be time for a change.
Borregales is coming off of a season where he kicked 91% on field goals and 100% on extra points. He converted a 57-yard kick, something a Vikings kicker hasn’t done in a long time.
Pick 240: K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn
Here I wanted to grab someone who could potentially start in the future and was certain to be a solid contributor on special teams right now.
Britt was the heartbeat of the Auburn defense in 2019. Before his injury in 2020 he was racking up impressive numbers: 68 tackles, 10 for loss, and 3.5 sacks. While he will need to further develop as a linebacker at the NFL level, he could immediately be a valuable member on the kickoff unit.