The 2021 NFL Draft is just 22 days away, and the general consensus around the football world is that the Vikings top needs include help on the offensive line and at edge rusher.
Fortunately for Minnesota, those happen to be among the strongest position groups, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.
The well-respected draft expert recently ranked 11 position groups of prospects and revealed his list earlier this week.
Zierlein explained his criteria:
In assessing each position group, I identified star-caliber players, future starting talent and overall depth relative to that particular position. In general, I focused my assessments on players who should be available between Round 1 and Round 5.
Zierlein's top group were the wide receivers, the same as a season ago. And while Minnesota could look elsewhere in the first round — unlike a year ago when the Vikings tabbed Justin Jefferson at No. 22 overall — the Vikings might address the position in the final half of the draft.
But Zierlein's next three position groups apply directly to the Vikings, as he ranked the offensive tackles at No. 2, had interior offensive linemen in the third spot and slotted edge defenders at No. 4.
Zierlein wrote that the 2021 draft class of tackles is full of both top-tier talent and late-round depth.
Last year featured some outstanding first-round talent, and while this year presents a similar offering, there are definitely more holes to poke in this year's potential first-rounders than there were in last year's group. Rashawn Slater feels like a safe player but may get kicked inside eventually. Penei Sewell boasts lots of upside but needs to prove he has improved his play strength and consistency after opting out of the 2020 season. While the top end falls below last year's group, this class is actually much deeper in Rounds 2 through 4, and it should produce a fair number of future starters.
He had similar thoughts on the crop of guards and centers that will soon hear their names called in the 2021 NFL Draft.
After landing in last place on last year's list, this position is very quietly developing into one of the deepest in the draft. Alijah Vera-Tucker will be considered the headliner if he's drafted as a guard instead of a tackle, but setting him aside, players like Landon Dickerson, Quinn Meinerz, Aaron Banks, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith should all become starters and may go as early as the second round. Even beyond the aforementioned talent, your team should find players with a chance to become eventual starters into Day 3 of this year's draft.
Zierlein then tabbed the group of edge rushers in the fourth spot, noting the raw athleticism but limited experience for some players in this group.
It is not a stretch to say that this year's top edge prospects have a high projectable ceiling but carry a slightly lower floor than other position groups in this draft. I happen to like the upside potential, considering the incredible physical and athletic traits of Jayson Oweh, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari, Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau, though there is a lack of production and polish for some in that group that is clearly concerning. Payton Turner and Dayo Odeyingbo could be two of the most talked-about players in this class when it's all said and done. I like the depth here.
The rest of Zierlein's list was rounded out by cornerbacks, linebackers, quarterbacks, safeties, running backs and tight ends. Interior defensive linemen took the final of the 11 spots.
The fifth edition of our Vikings 2021 Mock Draft Tracker includes 18 mock drafts (with 19 total first-round predictions) from across the football world. More than half of those experts (10) project an offensive lineman to the Vikings in the first round, with edge rusher being mentioned eight times.
Brugler releases extensive prospect guide
Rejoice draft fans … "The Beast" is here.
Draft expert Dane Brugler of The Athletic released his comprehensive draft guide Wednesday morning, a day that many around the league look forward to on an annual basis.
Brugler explained his massive undertaking:
[It's] a passion project that strives to be the most comprehensive NFL Draft resource available. This year's guide includes 415 scouting reports, NFL-verified pro day data for over 600 prospects and nearly 262,000 words.
Brugler concluded "The Beast" by including his Top 100 draft board. His top five overall players are Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and Oregon tackle Penei Sewell.