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Lunchbreak: CBS Sports Proposes 'Perfect Vikings Draft Plan'

A lot will happen for the Vikings between now and the 2022 NFL Draft, which will be conducted under new leadership.

While the approach for future drafts and football philosophy remains to be seen, media pundits are already opining. CBS Sports' Josh Edwards took a stab at proposing a "perfect draft plan" for the Vikings.

Edwards assumed in his scenario that Kirk Cousins remains Minnesota's starting quarterback for the 2022 season. With that being said, he suggested the Vikings target Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner with the 12th overall pick. Edwards wrote:

As Minnesota's pick draws near, they are likely focusing on adding either a top-rated cornerback or edge rusher. Purdue's George Karlaftis is the third edge rusher – behind Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux – that should be considered this early. LSU's Derek Stingley, Jr., is the other cornerback that would hypothetically be considered but most expect him to be off the board.

When picking a cornerback this early in the draft, teams are looking for potential lockdown man coverage cornerbacks. Gardner has been that prospect since his freshman season with the Bearcats. He is confident and competitive.

View the best quarterback photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.

In the second round, Edwards proposed Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie as a strong fit for Minnesota.

If the Vikings are looking for the best pairing at two premier positions, then it makes the most sense to go cornerback in Round 1 and edge rusher in Round 2. There should be several edge rusher options to consider around where Minnesota is picking: Florida State's Jermaine Johnson, South Carolina's Kingsley Enagbare, USC's Drake Jackson, Michigan's David Ojabo, San Diego State's Cameron Thomas and Ebiketie.

The former Temple transfer is explosive off the snap and will challenge opposing offensive tackles around the corner. He is a hard-working player that has really improved his hand usage.

To see Edwards' full list of Vikings draft predictions, click here.

Vikings 2021 draft class ranked bottom of the NFL

As teams turn the page to the 2022 NFL Draft and ensuing season, ESPN and analytics site Pro Football Focus teamed up to rank teams by their 2021 draft classes. ESPN wrote:

With the help of Pro Football Focus' Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, we ranked all 32 teams on the value of their rookie class over expectation given where each player was selected in the 2021 NFL draft.

Listed with each ranking is an explanation of why they landed where they did, analysis over how their top pick fared and – in some cases – a look at the team's best value pick. Some teams might not have a value pick listed, whether it be because few rookies saw significant time on the field for the franchise or that most rookies performed at or below expectations. Value picks can emerge from each team's class over the next couple of years, but for this exercise, we are looking solely at 2021 rookie production.

View the best offensive line photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.

The Vikings selected 11 players through the draft last spring, but Minnesota was ranked 32nd overall by the class' production. PFF explained why the Vikings landed where they did.

While Minnesota offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw did play well as a rookie, he still ranked only 41st in the class in WAR generated. The rest of the rookie class generated no cumulative WAR outside of Darrisaw, as quarterback Kellen Mond (minus-0.13 WAR) was a big reason why the Vikings slipped to last in rookie production.

Worth considering regarding the above point, though, is that the Vikings didn't draft Mond to be their starting quarterback in 2021, as that role belonged to Cousins.

The Vikings weren't assigned a "value pick" as of yet, but PFF expanded on how Darrisaw fared in Year 1:

Darrisaw got off to a late start to his rookie season due to a preseason injury, but he ended up playing in 11 games and posted a 71.8 PFF grade over that span, ranking 20th of 39 qualifying left tackles. The first-round pick's run-blocking, in particular, stood out, recording a 77.2 grade in that facet. Not only is that the sixth-best among left tackles for the 2021 season, but it's also the fourth-best by a rookie at the position in the last decade. Needless to say, the future looks promising for the Virginia Tech product.

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