The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs, and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets.
The Minnesota Vikings are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile.
The Vikings underwent a massive defensive turnover before the 2020 season began. They lost nine defensive players to cuts and free agency. That number does not include defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who was signed and then traded after just six games. Minnesota also lost their number one receiver, Stefon Diggs. Suffice to say, the team had some adjusting to do.
They began the season 1-5, which proved to be enough to kill their playoff hopes, despite going 6-4 after their bye week. Their losing streak was, in part, due to the completely restructured defense. To shore that side of the ball up in 2021, the Vikings signed Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods, Mackensie Alexander and Dalvin Tomlinson.
There is still some work to do if they hope to unseat the Packers in the NFC North, though. Here is how the Vikings can use their first three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to do just that.
2021 NFL Picks
Minnesota will have three picks to use in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
First Round (one pick): No. 14
Second Round (zero picks):
Third Round (two picks): No. 78, 90
Offensive line- The key to unlocking the next level of this offense is to upgrade the line. It was already pretty dreadful last year and now Minnesota has lost Riley Reiff. Dalvin Cook is already a Pro Bowler with a bad offensive line. Just imagine how much damage he could do with an upgraded one.
Defensive end- Danielle Hunter is a great defensive end, but there is no depth at the position on the Vikings’ roster. Grabbing a rookie defensive end in the draft is far preferable to moving a defensive lineman out of position to play on the end.
Wide receiver/punt returner- This may not be a need that should be filled in the first three rounds of the draft, but Minnesota needs a better return man. If this selection could also fill out the wide receiver core behind rookie sensation Justin Jefferson and the perennially solid Adam Thielen, all the better.
2021 Draft Targets
Pick No. 14: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Rousseau is a huge edge rushing talent out of Miami. Standing at 6-foot-7 and weighing 265 pounds he is very quick for his size. The 2019 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year placed second in total sacks that season with 15.5. He also totaled 54 tackles and forced two fumbles.
The main concern on his draft profile may be his size, though. Some scouts believe he will look stiff next to the smaller, more rangey ends in the 2021 draft. If that proves to be an unfounded concern, Rousseau will wreck offensive lines in the NFL.
Pick No. 78: Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia
Cleveland is very athletic for the guard position. If his strength is honed just a bit, he does not have to be tied down to just an interior offensive lineman. That kind of versatility is hard to pass up for a team that needs to build up its offensive line.
Pick No. 90: Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Whether or not the Vikings are high on Cleveland, they can probably still grab Walker Little in the third round, who is a tried and true tackle. Spending two picks in a row on linemen is risky, especially this late in the early rounds, but an offensive line that grows together can be invaluable to a team. If Minnesota is lucky, both of these prospects could start right away.
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