Vikings' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Vikings' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings need to add offensive line help in the 2021 NFL draft, but there are a handful of teams in front of them that also need to make additions on the offensive interior.

    The improvements needed by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers could take away the talent pool from which the Vikings will choose at No. 14.

    In fact, Minnesota may need to look further up the order to see how the picks in front of them play out.

    If five quarterbacks, three wide receivers and the top two defensive backs are chosen before the Vikings are on the clock, the odds will increase that they can land a top offensive lineman.

    If the first round does not go in their favor, they could pivot to defense before attacking the offensive line in the later rounds.

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    Christian Darrisaw should be coveted by teams from Nos. 11-14, and he could go earlier than expected if Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater are off the board inside the top 10.

    The Virginia Tech product is widely viewed as one of the top offensive tackles in the draft class, and most mock drafts have him being selected in the top 15.

    The ideal scenario for the Vikings came true in the beat writers' mock draft that had Slater going to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 13 and Darrisaw at No. 14.'s Courtney Cronin pointed out why Darrisaw would be a good fit in front of Kirk Cousins.

    "The Virginia Tech standout is a zone scheme fit who excels in pass protection—two attractive qualities for a unit that needs to shore up its ability to protect quarterback Kirk Cousins," she wrote.

    If the 21-year-old isn't available, the Vikings could go for a player who some may think is a reach at No. 14, trade down to collect more draft assets or look to fill another need.

Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Minnesota struggled to put together a consistent pass rush with Danielle Hunter out of the squad in 2020.

    Yannick Ngakoue was the only Vikings player to reach the five-sack mark, and they could use more pressure off the edge even with Hunter returning from injury.

    Georgia's Azeez Ojulari could be the solution to the edge-rushing problem if the Vikings don't land an offensive tackle at No. 14.

    The 20-year-old is coming off an 8.5-sack season with the Bulldogs, which stands out even more since the team played an all-SEC schedule. In total, he had 67 tackles and 14 sacks over his three seasons with the SEC East side.

    If Ojulari's pass-rushing skills translate to the NFL, he could be worth the No. 14 pick, even if it is viewed as a reach at that stage.

Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    If Sewell, Slater and Darrisaw are selected before No. 14, the Vikings could go with the next best pass protector on the board or trade down a few spots and hope he is available there.

    Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins is projected by the staff writers at Pro Football Focus and ESPN to land with the Chicago Bears at No. 20.

    The Vikings could feel comfortable with dropping a few selections since the teams between them and Chicago are not expected to be at the forefront of the O-line market.

    Ben Linsey of PFF noted the qualities that could make Jenkins an effective NFL offensive lineman.

    "Jenkins will move the line of scrimmage in the running game, and he's allowed a pressure rate below 3% throughout his college career," he wrote.

    The Vikings could also feel good about taking the 23-year-old at No. 14 if they feel he fits their system. It wouldn't be seen as a massive reach and would fill their most pressing need.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference and