Minnesota Vikings Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State – Round 3
The Vikings have been remodeling their offensive line over the past few seasons, and they continued do so in the 2021 NFL Draft, devoting multiple early-round picks to building up the line. While Davis may have gone under the radar as a third-round pick, he could provide good value for the Vikings and become their starting right guard before too long.

In the ground game, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Davis is a tough blocker who displays the ability to bull defenders and create movement at the point of attack. Davis fires off the ball and has the power to rock defenders backward and push them out of their gaps. He has an attitude and blocks through the whistle, looking to punish defenders. Davis possesses heavy hands and does a good job of sustaining blocks to prevent second efforts.

In short-yardage and goal-line situations Davis is a real asset who can push defenders, turn them, and manipulate them with his strong upper body. Davis oversets and lunges at times, especially at the second level, and that can cause him to lose his feet, but Davis can fix that in the NFL with pro coaching. In the ground game, Davis should be an asset for his pro team.

Davis has the potential to be solid pass protector, but he will need some development. He can react late to speed rushes, stunts, and games up front. Davis also can get in trouble when his weight gets over his toes, and that gives him issues with speed rushers. With his weight and strength, Davis can anchor to hold his ground against bull rushes. Improving his ability to handle speed rushers and games run by defenses, however, are the biggest areas of improvement for Davis entering the NFL.

The Vikings have veteran Dakota Dozier ahead of Davis on the depth chart, but it may not require much developmental time for Davis to move ahead of him as the starter. Davis could be an impactful run blocker for Dalvin Cook with the upside to develop into a solid pass protector. In a year or two, Davis could be a solid starter for Minnesota.

2020: Jeff Gladney, CB
2019: Garrett Bradbury, C
2018: Daniel Carlson, K
2017: Pat Elflein, C
2016: Laquon Treadwell, WR
2015: Trae Waynes, CB
2014: Scott Crichton, DE
2013: Xavier Rhodes, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina – Round 3
This was a tough choice because I really liked Minnesota’s draft overall. None of the Vikings’ early-round picks screams future bust, but of their five selections in the first three rounds, Surratt has the most risk because he is the rawest and needs the most development. Considering he started out his college career as a quarterback, that is understandable. Surratt, however, is going to need to learn quickly at the pro level to stick in the NFL.

Improving his technique as a tackler is a major point of emphasis for Surratt, who misses too many tackles. He flashes some instincts, but he is inconsistent and could stand to improve his ability to read his keys. His play recognition could improve with experience.

With a good skill set and upside, Surratt has boom-or-bust potential as a third-round pick. However, if he doesn’t develop into a starter, his skill set could make him a valuable contributor on special teams. While Surratt has a lot of potential, he also carries more risk than the other picks the Vikings made on Days 1 and 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

2020: Ezra Cleveland, OT
2019: Dru Samia, G
2018: Brian O’Neill, OT
2017: Ben Gedeon, LB
2016: Willie Beavers, OT
2015: Danielle Hunter, DE
2014: Teddy Bridgewater, QB
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR

Potential Boom Pick

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech – Round 1
The Vikings were in the market for tackle help after losing Riley Reiff in free agency, and finding a long-term solution at left tackle was another need. After trading down in the first round, Minnesota landed Darrisaw, and the fit made a lot of sense. I had the Vikings taking him in my final mock draft because Darrisaw is a tailor made for the Kubiak blocking system the Vikings employ and that system was a dream come true landing spot for Darrisaw.

As a pass protector, Darrisaw (6-5, 314) possesses a lot of qualities that NFL teams look for in starting left tackles. He has good size, length, and athleticism to block on the edge. Darrisaw is quick out his stance to get in position to pick up edge rushers, and his size makes it tough for defenders to get around him. With his quality hand placement and length, edge rushers struggle to avoid contact with Darrisaw, and that sets him up to win a lot of his assignments quickly. Darrisaw is quick and a good athlete on the edge. His agility and movement skills give him the ability to neutralize speed rushers off the edge.

Darrisaw is a solid run blocker as well. He uses his big body to tie up defenders and lean on them. Darrisaw is more of the type to turn defenders and tie them up from getting to the ball-carrier, rather than knocking them off the ball. For the NFL, Darrisaw could be better off in a zone-blocking system rather a power-man rushing attack, and fortunately for him, he landed in the Vikings’ zone-predominant system.

In both phases, Darrisaw does not block with a mean streak or sense of urgency. He demonstrates a complacent style of play after getting the initial block and doesn’t finish off defenders. Darrisaw seems content to ease off a lot of the time rather than burying defenders or fighting them through the whistle. That mentality makes him a better fit in a zone scheme.

Here is what another team’s college director thought of Darrisaw pre-draft:

    “He’s highly athletic and plays a premium position to go in the back half of the first round.” “He’s definitely a cruiser who doesn’t play passionately or urgent a lot of the time, which losses me, but the movement and length is there.”

Darrisaw is the projected starter at left tackle, and like all rookies he could have some growing pains. But he is a great athlete with a lot of upside and the Vikings were a perfect scheme fit. In Minnesota, Darrisaw has definite boom-pick potential.

2020: Justin Jefferson, WR
2019: Irv Smith Jr., TE
2018: Mike Hughes, CB
2017: Dalvin Cook, RB
2016: Mackensie Alexander, CB
2015: Eric Kendricks, LB
2014: Anthony Barr, LB
2013: Sharrif Floyd, DT

Future Depth Player

Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M – Round 3
Many league sources feel Kirk Cousins is a competent NFL starter, but not a championship-caliber trigger man. The Vikings have remained committed to Cousins, but they drafted Mond in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Picking Mond was an interesting move considering the history and inside knowledge that Gary Kubiak has with the Aggies program. With Gary Kubiak’s son Klint Kubiak as the Vikings offensive coordinator, they may have ideas of Mond being a solid backup with the potential to develop into a player who could push Cousins.

Mond has a good skill set with a quality arm, size and athleticism, plus he picked up a lot of experience under Jimbo Fisher. Over his time with Texas A&M, Mond improved each year, and he has some key traits needed to be a solid pro backup, like intelligence and work ethic. While Mond may not become a starter in the NFL, he could be a quality No. 2 for Minnesota.

2020: D.J. Wonnum, DE
2019: Alexander Mattison, RB
2018: Jayln Holmes, DE
2017: Bucky Hodges, TE
2016: Kentrell Brothers, LB
2015: Stefon Diggs, WR
2014: Jerick McKinnon, RB
2013: Michael Mauti, LB

Walt’s 2021 NFL Draft Grades:

23. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech – B Grade
How can you not like this value for the Vikings? I thought Christian Darrisaw would be their pick at No. 14 if Rashawn Slater happened to be off the board. He’s long and athletic, which is exactly what Minnesota looks for from its offensive linemen. However, several teams told us that there’s “something missing with Darrisaw.” Some teams think he lacks toughness, which would worry me. Still, this is a good value selection.

66. Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M – B+ Grade
Kellen Mond’s accruacy is a concern, but he’s a strong-armed quarterback with plenty of upside. Kirk Cousins is overrated and overpaid, so he doesn’t seem like he can consistently lead the Vikings deep into the playoffs. The Vikings will be hoping that Mond can overtake him in 2022, which will allow Minnesota to get out of Cousins’ albatross of a contract.

78. Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina – B+ Grade
I suspected the Vikings would address their linebacker situation after they struggled so much in that regard once Eric Kendricks got hurt there last year. Chazz Surratt is a versatile player who can rush the passer and make plays in coverage. This is a solid choice, as Surratt could’ve gone in the second round without many complaints.

86. Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State – B+ Grade
The Vikings are doing a good job of bolstering their offensive line, which is something they sorely needed to do. Wyatt Davis has some trouble with interior speed rushes, but he’s a powerful blocker who will blast open huge running lanes for Dalvin Cook. I had Wyatt Davis at the end of the second round, so I like this value.

90. Patrick Jones, DE, Pittsburgh – B+ Grade
The Vikings lost several edge rushers in recent offseasons, so it made sense for them to acquire someone like Patrick Jones. The Pittsburgh product has great pass-rushing upside, but he needs to get stronger for the NFL. He’s not quite there yet, but he could be a stud one day.

119. Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State – F Grade
What a waste of a pick. I get that the Vikings lost the Walter Payton of the preseason, Mike Boone, but they still had Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison on the roster. I didn’t even have Kene Nwangwu being drafted, so there were better running backs available.

125. Camryn Bynum, S, California – B Grade
It’s interesting that the Vikings announced Camryn Bynum as a safety because I had him pegged as a cornerback. Bynum is a solid, smart player who will potentially fill a huge need the Vikings have in their secondary next to Harrison Smith, thanks to Anthony Harris’ departure.

134. Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State – A- Grade
The Vikings have lost so many edge rushers in the past couple of offseasons, so they needed to find as many players as possible to get after the quarterback to beat Aaron Rod-, erm- Jordan Love. Janarius Robinson is an explosive athlete with high potential, and I’ve had him mocked around this range, so this is a solid pick.

157. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa – B Grade
Ihmir Smith-Marsette is a speedy receiver who actually fills a slight need for the Vikings. Minnesota obviously has two studs at the position, but nothing else, so insurance was needed. This is about the right range fr Smith-Marsette, who generated some buzz in the final couple of months of the pre-draft process.

168. Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri – C Grade
Zach Davidson is a very good athlete, so while I never had him in my mock draft, he’s at least intriguing. Perhaps he can become a productive tight end for the Vikings in the wake of Kyle Rudolph’s departure.

199. Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh – C- Grade
It makes sense that the Vikings would obtain another defensive lineman after losing so many players in that area. However, Jaylen Twyman is not someone I thought would be drafted, as I had him predicted as a UDFA.

2021 NFL Draft Team Grade: B+. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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