The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and while the Packers may have stolen headlines thanks to their "issues" with Aaron Rodgers, one of Green Bay's NFC North rivals probably deserve just as much, if not more, attention coming out of the weekend. We're talking about the Minnesota Vikings. The reigning third-place finishers came into the draft with the No. 14 pick but ended up moving back and striking gold because of it. As we review each team's 2021 rookie class, here's a look at what the Vikings got right and wrong with their picks, specifically what they still need to address and one area they definitely aced:
What the Vikings got right
You can pretty much lump their first two rounds into this category, because general manager Rick Spielman couldn't have maneuvered more smoothly. First, at No. 14, Minnesota moved back nine spots with the Jets in order to add two additional third-rounders. As if that weren't enough of a steal, the Vikings then landed Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw at No. 23, snagging a potential Day 1 blind-side starter that would've been a justified selection at No. 14. The cherry on top: Using No. 66, the first of the acquired third-rounders, to add Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond.
Darrisaw and Mond couldn't be more different in terms of 2021 expectations. The former is an immediate candidate to replace the departed Riley Reiff at left tackle, shoring up a perennially shuffled line for the Vikings' run-heavy offense. The latter is more of a long-term project, ideally giving Minnesota a more athletic backup this year, then challenging or succeeding Kirk Cousins down the road. Both picks are home runs, in our view. Darrisaw at No. 23 was just great value, and even if he's just serviceable as a rookie, he'll essentially replace the more expensive Reiff. Mond, meanwhile, is enticing precisely because he's different from Cousins -- more of a rocket-armed developmental passer who gives the Vikings far more long-term upside than they've had at the QB spot.
What the Vikings still need to do
This one's easy, and perhaps the only reason Minnesota didn't have a near-perfect performance on draft weekend: Boost the pass rush. Danielle Hunter is a physical freak with the production to match his size, so his return from injury -- barring a serious holdout and/or trade request this summer -- will aid the front four greatly. But Minnesota has lacked a bona fide end opposite Hunter since Everson Griffen left prior to 2020. Yannick Ngakoue's stint was short-lived, and Stephen Weatherly's return basically fills Ifeadi Odenigbo's vacant depth role rather than giving the Vikings a surefire starter.
The draft wasn't devoid of pass-rushing swings. Far from it. Spielman spent two picks on defensive ends: Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones II (third round) and Florida State's Janarius Robinson (fourth). Some would argue that both were taken a round early, however, with Jones requiring time to develop and Robinson transitioning from more of a stand-up role. If the Vikings are intent on contending sooner rather than later, however, they could stand to add to the position, whether via trade or free agency. Otherwise they'll be counting heavily on vets at other spots, like new defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, to balance things out.