We’re nearing the end of mock draft season, but not before one last massive cloud of hype and misinformation gets blown across the process. There are inevitably a couple of names who pick up steam as draft day approaches, with Mac Jones being the poster child for 2021.
The Vikings aren’t necessarily in the market for a first-round quarterback, but Jones’ climb up the draft board could provide additional options for Minnesota — whether he bumps a position player into the Vikings’ lap or provides a trade-back opportunity for a QB-needy team smitten with the Alabama signal-caller.
Based on analysis of the 20 most recent mocks in the Mock Draft Database for the Vikings, that bumped player may very well be offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw.
The MDD has Kwity Paye as the most frequently mocked player to the Vikings, and the consensus board gives the Vikings Gregory Rousseau at 14. Neither of them plays on the offensive line. Looking at those 20 recent mocks, Alijah Vera-Tucker (four times) is the most commonly mocked offensive lineman to the Vikings. Rashawn Slater was mocked to the Vikings twice, as was Darrisaw.
Slater’s potential availability at 14 meant Darrisaw didn’t receive much in the way of early attention from the O-line-starved Vikings drafters. And those looking at interior-line options leaned more towards Vera-Tucker.
But Slater is 11th on the MDD consensus big board, suggesting he’s less likely to be there when the Vikings pick than Darrisaw (15th on that same big board). And guard is a tough first-round sell, value-wise, especially over a potentially elite tackle.
Plenty of variables factor into where the Vikings might go with this pick. Are they back in the market for a cornerback? Do they still feel the need for an edge rusher? How are the O-linemen stacked on Minnesota’s big board? Will the Los Angeles Chargers, also in need of an O-line upgrade, snipe the Vikings one pick before Rick Spielman turns in his card?
There are so many decisions, many of them out of the Vikings’ hands, to be made before the 14th pick of this year’s draft. But the Vikings should be ready if Darrisaw is staring them in the face when they go on the clock.
Darrisaw Makes Sense for Minnesota
Riley Reiff‘s release opened another hole on the Vikings’ offensive line. The team is playing it close to the vest whether or not they’ll slide Brian O’Neill over from the right side or kick Ezra Cleveland back outside to the tackle position he was presumably drafted to play. Adding Darrisaw to the Vikings’ offensive line makes it much easier to keep O’Neill and Cleveland at last year’s positions and let them develop some right-side chemistry.
At 6’4″ and 314 lbs, Darrisaw has classic NFL tackle size and traits, and he started all three seasons at left tackle for Virginia Tech. Scouting reports unanimously slot him into a zone-blocking scheme, more because of his quickness and athleticism than any lack of power.
Darrisaw’s Pro Football Focus grades are impressive, including a 94.5 run-blocking mark, and he didn’t allow a sack in his final season with the Hokies. His game made massive strides over three collegiate seasons, though there is still room for technical improvement. Scouting reports love his ability to run-block in space; in his scouting report at NFL.com, Lance Zierlein said Darrisaw’s tape “shows a player who’s able to make jaw-dropping cutoffs on the backside.”
Plus, for those of you who know how much I value a lineman’s ability to anchor, you have to love any player whose scouting report contains the following: “Darrisaw’s opponents won’t have much success trying to rush through him.”
That’d be nice, for a change.
Darrisaw gets dinged by two of the offensive line analysts whose opinion I value the most (Zierlein and Brandon Thorn). They note a concerning number of instances where he played down to his competition level or seemed to be going through the motions. If the Vikings are convinced of Darrisaw’s focus on becoming an elite NFL tackle, he’s as much a no-brainer at 14 as either Slater or Vera-Tucker would be.
Among MDD’s 20 most recent mocks, two other names were linked to the Vikings in the first round are Texas tackle Sam Cosmi and Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis. As big as the Vikings’ need is at multiple offensive line spots, I’m not personally a fan of using the 14th pick on either.
Cosmi strikes me as similar to Cleveland in that he’s got NFL tackle size and a solid resumé on the left side, but is that enough to warrant a mid-first-round pick? If Trader Rick starts moving around the board, Cosmi could be a target towards the end of Round 1, and I’d be perfectly fine with that.
Similarly, Davis is a better value at the end of the first round; the MDD consensus mock has him going 31st overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. Davis also might have more value to a power/gap or inside zone team, though all indications are he brings more than enough athleticism to the table to play in an outside zone. Bottom line, while his experience is primarily on the right side, he’d be a ginormous upgrade at a guard spot — over he whose name shall not be spoken — or on the right if Cleveland slides to a tackle spot.
The Vikings are fast approaching the beggars-can’t-be-choosers territory along the offensive line — by their own doing, mind you. But if the plan all along has been to use a Day 1 pick to address the team’s biggest need, having another quality option like Darrisaw makes it even more likely there will be significant help available when the 14th pick rolls around.
Now, if only I were convinced the Vikings would actually pull the trigger.