"Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen returned to TCO Studios for the first time in too long and connected with ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio and ESPN's Adam Schefter to gather thoughts from a pair of heavy hitters a week before the 2021 NFL Draft.
Florio and Schefter offered numerous takes for Thursday's episode of "#VikingsAtHome" that ranged from the unique factors of this draft, to what the Vikings might do, to buzz they are hearing about prospects and Minnesota's efforts to close the gap on defending NFC North champ Green Bay.
Florio described this year's draft as more "unpredictable" than normal because of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the 2020 college football schedule and players.
"So many guys didn't have a complete set of reliable film from 2020. So many guys opted out, and I believe for those guys it was the right decision based on the information that was available at the time," Florio said. "The problem is you've got no film on the guys who opted out, and I know that some teams out there look a little differently at the guys who opted out, even though they shouldn't.
"I think that's what makes it a little more unpredictable, and you take out the scouting combine, you take out the private workouts, you take out the ability we used to have to track who was visiting who. Now, they can talk to anybody they want to," Florio added "I think that's part of it, too. It makes it harder to get a feel for the names that are going to come off the board."
Florio and Schefter both said they wouldn't be surprised to see the Vikings address the line of scrimmage with the 14th overall pick.
Allen started his questions with Schefter, a graduate of Michigan and Northwestern, with a prospect from each school (former Wolverines DE Kwity Paye and former Wildcats OL Rashawn Slater). We recently took looks at Paye and Slater.
"[Paye is] a good, effective pass rusher, and I think he can come in and contribute right away. That would be a good pick for Minnesota," Schefter said. "I don't think Rashawn Slater will be there at 14. I would be really surprised if Rashawn Slater is there at 14. I've heard his name too many times from too many people that like him too much to make me think that he's going to slide to 14, and if he does happen to slide to that spot, turn in the card [with Slater as the pick]."
Florio described the impacts that adding to the offensive line or defensive line can have on other positions. He also said the Vikings have a "gaping hole" to fill at left tackle.
"I know Ezra Cleveland is the guy who is penciled in to slide over. If you do that, then you've got a hole at [right] guard, so that offensive line, side to side, all five spots, has got to get better," Florio said. "We've talked about this before, Paul, the idea that Kirk Cousins is very good with the play that's called and is not very good with the play that you have to come up with on the fly. The more the offense can run the play that's called without the walls collapsing, the better the offense can be.
"I also think the pass rush needs to be better," Florio added. "They've done a lot on the back end to make it better. The best way to make the back end of your defense better is to improve the front end and give the quarterback no time."