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Monday Morning Mailbag: Christian Darrisaw's 2021 Impact & Expectations for Kellen Mond

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I was surprised to see the Vikings take a QB at Pick 66, as their strong point is not looking to the future. I previously promoted Kyle Trask for a pick, but he was taken just before Kellen Mond. After looking at Mond's highlights, he will do well as a mobile QB. As a long-time Vikings fan, I am happy with this pick especially given that the Vikings are drafting some much-needed OL help. Mond will have a good chance of getting 1-2 games under his belt as a rookie, given that the NFL is extending to 17 games. Extending the season is going to result in more QB injuries, so teams are going to have to be strategic and rest the starting QB for at least two games with the possibility of losing a couple of games.

— Theodore Hoppe

When will we get over the love affair with Kirk Cousins? Great stats don't bring Ws. He might be a little above-average but not worth the financial drain on the rest of the team. Great QBs win. The others are stuck in the middle of the pack. Maybe this draft will bring some excitement to the QB room.

— David Walker

The 2021 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, and I hope you all are happy with how the Purple did with their 11 picks. Let's get into some of the selections, beginning with a player picked at the most important position in all of sports.

I combined the questions from Theodore and David because they both pertain to the Vikings quarterbacks room, which has a fresh face now with third-rounder Kellen Mond.

I wrote this in our takeaways piece from the draft, and will it emphasize it here again, but Cousins is the starting quarterback in Minnesota. In fact, my guess now is that Mond doesn't even see the field in 2021. And he probably shouldn't considering that he still has plenty of room to grow, improve and learn, especially when making the leap to the NFL.

But what Mond does provide is a young quarterback who was picked fairly high that could potentially be a long-term answer for the Vikings. Again, there is no guarantee that is how it plays out.

Perhaps Cousins plays flawlessly for 17 games and leads the Vikings on a deep playoff run, and then does it again in 2022. Then it wouldn't be a surprise if he gets an extension and remains in Purple for the foreseeable future. Remember that he is extremely durable and has played well for the most part since arriving in Minnesota.

View photos of Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond who was selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

But let's say Cousins struggles and the Vikings miss the playoffs again in 2021, while Mond shows considerable improvement and looks like he could potentially be ready to see the field. Cousins then has one year left on his deal and the Vikings would face a decision for 2022 and beyond at the quarterback spot.

The hope is that a mix of both scenarios happen, in that Cousins lights it up and the Vikings win, all while Mond builds his own game up while learning the ins and outs of the Vikings offense.

In that situation, the Vikings would have two good quarterbacks on the roster, which is a problem that every NFL would want to have.

View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Awesome pick with Christian Darrisaw. We still need offensive line guys, but I don't know if anyone was worth trading up for.

— Toby S.

Toby sent this email on Thursday night, soon after Darrisaw was announced as the 23rd overall pick. I tweeted this a few nights ago, but I would have been happy with the mammoth Virginia Tech tackle at 14, so to get him at 23 and then gain a pair of third-rounders, including the pick used on Mond, is just dynamite work by Vikings GM Rick Spielman.

Darrisaw will have to earn his starting job at left tackle, but there's no reason to believe that he can't be a cornerstone there for the next decade if all goes well. He's big enough (6-foot-5 and 322 pounds), athletic enough and powerful enough to certainly hold that role for years to come.

View behind-the-scenes images of first round draft pick Virginia Tech T Christian Darrisaw as he met the Vikings organization for the first time at TCO Performance Center.

And what makes this pick even better, as Toby's email hoped for, is that the Vikings then used the other third-round selection acquired from the Jets to take Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis. Nearly every draft write-up I've seen has rave reviews about that pick, both for the value where Minnesota got Davis, and for the impact player he could become.

Davis could also be a Day 1 starter along the line, but his set position is a little more in-flux. He primarily played right guard in college, but noted after the third round that he could play anywhere along the line.

Does he compete for the right guard spot? That would mean Ezra Cleveland would shift to left guard, something nobody is talking much about but something I personally wonder is a possibility. Remember that Cleveland did start out at left guard in training camp, even if he did start nine games at right guard as a rookie.

Perhaps the line could be Darrisaw-Cleveland-Bradbury-Davis-O'Neill? That's a way too early projection and just one possibility that could occur. Spielman also noted multiple times over the weekend that the team had acquired Mason Cole before the draft, and he could be a candidate at a guard spot. Either way, it's safe to say the Vikings upgraded their offensive line this weekend in a big way.

There was some talk of the Vikings changing to a 4-2-5 defense. To me, drafting athletic players with no set position like Chazz Surratt and Camryn Bynum, plus pass rushers Patrick Jones II, Janarius Robinson, another run stopper/pass rusher like Jaylen Twyman … they don't just fill needs but they fit into this defensive scheme very well. I understand there might be a transition, but why don't we hear more about this new defensive scheme? I believe even if deployed part-time it would be revolutionary.

— Pete Anderson

Pete closes us out with an interesting question about the Vikings base defense, which has traditionally been a 4-3 scheme (four defensive linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs) under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

But it's worth noting the Vikings (and every other NFL defense) line up with a 4-2-5 combination in their nickel defense. In that instance, Minnesota usually employs pass rushers up front, Barr and Kendricks at linebacker and five defensive backs, with three cornerbacks usually on the field.

Could we see more of that in 2021? It's a possibility, especially because Zimmer hinted in late March that some changes to the defensive scheme are coming. And Mackensie Alexander, who manned that extra defensive back spot admirably before heading to Cincinnati last year, is back this year.

"The No. 1 thing we want to do on defense is we want to play fast, we want to play physical, we don't want to be thinking," Zimmer said on March 31. "The offenses lately have been getting us to think because we have to adjust here, adjust there, do this, do that. Some of these things we've talked about, and it's just too hard to implement during the season.

"Some of it is big change, some of it is minor tweaks," Zimmer added. "[Coaches are] sitting in a room, we're watching tape together, we're going over everything, we're getting on the white board and talk about, 'If we do this, how do we do this, what if they line up and do this?' All the scenarios going through our minds that we don't have to try to get done in three days getting ready for a game."

Perhaps the group of defensive newcomers such as Surratt, Bynum, Jones, Robinson and Twyman carve out roles for themselves in certain situations in 2021. It's OK if they don't start right away, especially since nearly every starting spot on defense is likely already set.

If the rookies can come in and show prominent growth and make an impact along the way, that's what you're hoping for with players drafted in the third round and below.

It takes time for all rookies to get adjusted to the NFL, but there's no doubt that the Vikings added some players in the 2021 NFL Draft that will undoubtedly make them better in the long run.

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