The Minnesota Vikings’ fanbase seems split over what the team should do with their No. 12-overall pick in next week’s draft. Should they add another cornerback or find another weapon at wide receiver?
One different idea that shouldn’t be dismissed is taking Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.
By now everyone knows that the Georgia Bulldogs have one of the best defenses college football has ever seen. It was a group that featured a handful of prospects who will now likely go in the first round. While Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean get a lot of the attention, Wyatt was every bit as important.
His statistics won’t blow anyone away, but they point to a player who continued to peel back layers to his game as he got better in his four years at Georgia. He and Davis made up the most ferocious interior defensive line in the country. For as good an athlete as Davis is, Wyatt is just as physically impressive.
Wyatt logged a 4.77 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, raising plenty of eyebrows. At 6’3″, 314 lbs., it’s safe to say the big fella can scoot.
He’s better known as a run-stuffer, but he improved dramatically as a pass rusher in his senior season with the Bulldogs. Adding him to the mix in Minnesota could make them lethal.
The Vikings had significant decisions to make this offseason, and the first was what to do with Danielle Hunter. They opted to keep him and also signed Za’Darius Smith after he became a cap casualty with the Green Bay Packers.
Minnesota wasn’t done.
They also added Harrison Phillips to the interior of the defensive line. So while many may say the D-line is fine as it is, drafting Wyatt could push things over the edge and make them downright unstoppable.
Wyatt has all the tools to be an instant-impact player. Even as a rookie, he would draw the kind of attention that could free up Hunter, Smith, and Phillips for those individual matchups that they crave.
Many fans want the Vikings to address the secondary in the draft, specifically the cornerback spot, even after Patrick Peterson announced his return. Do you know what makes life incredibly more manageable for a secondary? A defensive line that is constantly harassing opposing quarterbacks.
Adding Wyatt to the mix would give Minnesota a more youthful look up front. This isn’t to suggest Hunter, Smith, or Phillips are past their prime. But adding a rookie to the equation could really shake things up and give the Vikings many different options.
Wyatt is as active as they come in this draft class, and there is never a worry about the gas tank running empty. Per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, the tape got better for Wyatt in his final year in Athens.
“Highly active defensive tackle with decent strength. Wyatt is made for movement and disruptions. He helped himself in 2021 with better tape both against the run and as a pass rusher. His lateral quickness is useful in beating zone blocks and in sliding across the front in a game-based pass rush. Wyatt has adequate strength but struggles to withstand a second blocker. The traits are average, but the effort is consistent and Wyatt should fit nicely as a rotational, gap-seeking three-technique with disruptive flashes.”
Zierlein is far from the only analyst raving about Wyatt. Via The Draft Network, scouts love Wyatt’s shiftiness.
“Wyatt is an excellent athlete inside, displaying quickness and burst to penetrate gaps. He is a disruptive interior rusher with the quickness to win the edges inside and shoot gaps. Wyatt plays with good balance and has excellent change of direction and lateral mobility. He has very good speed overall to cross offensive linemen’s faces and is excellent with his hands, showing an ability to tie rush moves together inside.”
Nobody would blame Minnesota if they go wide receiver, cornerback, or safety at No. 12. There may be a more significant need to draft someone who can enhance the secondary right away, but there is no doubt that drafting a player like Devonte Wyatt could take the Vikings’ defensive front from really good to downright nasty in 2022.