EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings selected Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw with the 23rd overall pick (after trading down from 14) in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
Draft experts Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Bucky Brooks (NFL.com) and ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., had Darrisaw as the third-rated tackle in the draft, as did analytics website Pro Football Focus. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Darrisaw fifth at that position.
The selection of Darrisaw continues the recent investment of high picks toward the Vikings offensive line that includes tackle Brian O'Neill (2018 second round), center Garrett Bradbury (2019 first round) and Ezra Cleveland (2020 second round). Minnesota's left tackle spot opened after four-year starter Riley Reiff departed during free agency.
Darrisaw, a junior who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds on his NFL.com bio page, played in 10 games during the 2020 season. He started all of them at left tackle; earning Second-Team All-American honors from The Associated Press and a First-Team All-ACC selection.
Darrisaw earned his first-round status with hard work. Virginia Tech was the only major Division I school to offer Darrisaw a scholarship out of Riverdale Baptist High School in Maryland. He became the second Hokies tackle selected in a first round, joining Duane Brown, who was the 26th overall pick in 2008 by the Texans.
Darrisaw is the 13th Virginia Tech player ever drafted in a first round and the only one ever selected on opening night by the Vikings. He's the sixth former Hokies player ever drafted by Minnesota.
NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger told Vikings.com that he has high expectations for Darrisaw.
"I like Darrisaw … I thought he got better every year in his three years. He's got left tackle size, kind of reminds me of Dion Dawkins in Buffalo, just a little bigger," Baldinger said. "I think he looks like a left tackle and moves like a left tackle. Sometimes they want these guys to be like these ballerinas out there – I just think if you latch onto your guy and can keep him away from the quarterback, and when he throws the ball, your man is 2 yards away from the quarterback, you're doing your job.
"He just does a good job of staying between him and the quarterback. He's a good run blocker. I think there's a good upside on Christian Darrisaw. I mean, he's not going to get out of the first round," Baldinger added. "It's just a question of where people are going to play him. Are they going to play him at right tackle? Are they going to play him at left tackle or play him at guard? I mean, I'd draft him, and I'd see if he could play left tackle. If he can't, find another place for him. But I think he's going to play."
View photos of Virginia Tech T Christian Darrisaw who was selected No. 23 overall in the First Round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Virginia Tech was the only FBS school to offer Darrisaw a scholarship out of Riverdale Baptist High School in Maryland. He played at Fork Union Military Academy in 2017 before joining the Hokies. Darrisaw entered the starting lineup at left tackle immediately (taking on Florida State edge rusher and eventual first-round pick Brian Burns early on), missing only one of 13 games due to injury. He began all 13 games on the blindside as a sophomore. Darrisaw was regarded as one of the top tackles in the country his junior season, earning second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-ACC accolades for his play in 10 starts. -- by Chad Reuter
View photos of Christian Darrisaw being announced as the 23rd overall pick at the NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio.
Athletically gifted left tackle prospect with the natural talent to be as good as he wants to be. Darrisaw plays with plus body control. He has the initial quickness and smooth agility to get to any and all blocks in the run game. The tape shows a player who's able to make jaw-dropping cutoffs on the backside but who gives half-hearted effort securing down blocks and squeezing down to help protect the B-gap. He's flexible and loose in pass pro, with the foot quickness and hand strength to punch and close up shop on would-be edge rushers. His mirror can get a little lazy at times, and he will definitely need to do a better job of finishing his blocks. The low-burn field demeanor leads to inconsistencies in play, but the athletic traits and talent as a true left tackle should create first-round demand as a higher-ceiling, lower-floor prospect.
- Split low with optimal center of gravity.
- Natural bender who's able to keep his pad level right.
- Silky-smooth feet in pass slides.
- Strong hands help him lock in after punch has landed.
- Athletic feet to mirror and move in all directions.
- Ability to quick-set wide rushers and short-circuit their angles.
- Body control and balance generally solid throughout the rep.
- Lower-body bend to doorstop a bull rush.
- Has talent and athleticism to make all the blocks at any angle.
- Lateral quickness off the snap is fantastic.
- Enticing combination of feet, hips and hand strength.
- Tunnel-maker with ability to reach, turn and secure cutback lanes.
- Very effective cut blocker.
- Keeps eyes trained on second-level targets through his secure blocks.
- Agility to stalk and connect against moving targets.
- Eliminated most penalties over the last two seasons.
- Play can be much too nonchalant at times.
- Inexplicably lets opponents off the hook early rather than finishing them.
- Too reliant upon athleticism over technique.
- Low hands lead to occasional late punches.
- Opens outside hip a little early in his pass slides.
- Allows defender into his frame more than he should.
- Needs committed power step inside to protect B-gap.
- Inconsistent working a firm, accurate outside hand.
- Lazy with hand placement on down blocks.
- Rushes through secure block on combos.