The Minnesota Vikings would love to trade back in the 2021 NFL Draft. They lost their second-round choice to land Yannick Ngakoue, and could look to recoup that pick by sliding down a few spots this year.
Here are some prospects who could be on the board at pick 14 who would garner the most interest and get the Vikings the best deal possible.
TE Kyle PITTS
Kyle Pitts isn’t just a tight end. This guy is an athletic freak who can be played anywhere: outside, in the slot, on the line, or even in the backfield. His versatility will have plenty of teams salivating thinking of how he could improve their offense.
As good as this guy is, there is a chance he slides down to No. 14. There are plenty of teams picking in the top 10 that need help at quarterback. Others could choose to bolster their offensive lines instead of taking this guy, which could send him tumbling. Teams like the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers pick ahead of the Vikings and could consider Pitts, but they have needs on defense as well and may go that route.
So chances are pretty high that Pitts is available when the Vikings are on the clock. With Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., and Tyler Conklin already on the roster, Minnesota is unlikely to take Pitts. The team that picks behind them though, the New England Patriots, definitely could.
They sorely missed Rob Gronkowski last year and Pitts would be the perfect replacement. There are a handful of teams who choose after the Pats that would love to get their hands on this dynamic playmaker. The New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Miami Dolphins could all benefit from landing Pitts to help their young quarterbacks. The Vikings could see a deal offered that not only gives them a second-round choice back but potentially much more.
QB MAC JONES
The first half of the NFL draft this year will be dominated by quarterbacks. Four could come off the board in the top eight picks alone, but Alabama’s Mac Jones could still be there.
He doesn’t have an impressive physique nor is he athletically gifted, but the guy has a very high football IQ and puts the ball where it needs to be with accuracy and touch. He’s quite similar to Kirk Cousins and could develop into a very good starting quarterback down the road.
The Vikings are in win-now mode, and it is highly unlikely they draft a quarterback at 14. They have teams picking behind them, though, that would love to get their hands on Jones. The Patriots, Washington, and the Indianapolis Colts are all looking for a starting quarterback. Minnesota may hear their phone ringing when they are on the clock as these clubs jockey for position to land their quarterback of the future.
If Jones is available it would give the Vikings their best trade offer. When a team feels it is getting a future starting QB, they are willing to give up much more than the standard position. Minnesota could potentially see a future first-rounder in this package and additional picks in 2021.
LB MICAH PARSONS
Micah Parsons is one of the more talented defensive players in this year’s draft. He plays with a ton of energy and can make plays all over the field. He can cover, stop the run, and provide pressure off the edge, making him the total package.
From a talent standpoint alone, this guy is a top-10 pick, but he’s got some off-the-field baggage hurting his draft stock. Parsons was involved in harassing and getting in a fight with a former player, among other things. This won’t help him on draft day, but it could help the Vikings.
It’ll be interesting if Parsons is on the board at pick 14. The Vikings could take him because he is the best player available, assuming they okay him from the character side of things. Linebacker isn’t the Vikings’ most pressing need, but they could cut Anthony Barr in the offseason to save some money and replace him with Parsons.
But if Parsons begins to slide, teams who once thought he’d be well out of their range could get excited and call the Vikings. Three teams who have traded up for defensive playmakers in the past — the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers — could all be in the mix. If those division rivals get in a bidding war for Parsons’ services, the Vikings could reap the benefits.
WR DEVONTA SMITH
This could truly be any of the top wide receivers in this year’s class, because it is unclear at this point which one will fall. In recent mocks, it has been DeVonta Smith sliding down the board, but in others, it is Jaylen Waddle or even Ja’Marr Chase. If one of those three slips, it will be hard for the Vikings to not pull the trigger themselves, but it could be even harder to pass up the type of deal they could be offered if one were available.
The Vikings need to take a receiver or two at some point in this year’s draft. Adam Thielen isn’t getting any younger, and while Justin Jefferson is a star, the depth behind those two is sketchy at best. Bisi Johnson took a step backward in 2020 from a production standpoint, K.J. Osborn didn’t get a sniff, and Minnesota cut Tajae Sharpe. Chad Beebe solidified his role as the slot receiver but is a free agent and isn’t a lock to come back.
But squads like Washington, the Las Vegas Raiders, Jets, Jaguars, and the hated New Orleans Saints would all love to get their paws on one of these elite pass catchers. The Vikings could get offered a pretty nice ransom to move back a few spots. The good news for them is that they could still address a major need by moving down to the back end of the first round.
There are plenty of quality edge rushers and offensive linemen who could be had in the mid-20s or later, and the Vikings could potentially land the same type of player they would’ve gotten at choice 14, plus a plethora of extra picks.