News | Minnesota Vikings –

2021 NFL Draft: Experts' Favorite Picks & Highest Grades in NFC North

EAGAN, Minn. – Collectively, the NFC North division gained 34 new players through the 2021 NFL Draft (not counting the college free agency pool).

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his personnel department led the way with 11 selections, followed by the Packers with nine. Chicago and Detroit made seven draft picks apiece. All four teams had a Round 1 selection, with Green Bay being the only team in the division to nab a defensive player first.

The 2021 NFL schedule is slated to be released on May 12; but regardless of specific dates, Vikings fans can know with certainty that Minnesota will face its division rivals twice each. So we took a look at the draft moves by each NFC North team. We also noted ESPN's Todd McShay’s favorite selection and CBS Sports’ top-graded pick from each; grades and assessments were made by Pete Prisco and Chris Trapasso.


Table inside Article
RoundOverall PickNamePositionCollege
123Christian DarrisawTVirginia Tech
366Kellen MondQBTexas A&M
378Chazz SurrattLBNorth Carolina
386Wyatt DavisGOhio State
390Patrick Jones IIDEPittsburgh
4119Kene NwangwuRBIowa State
4125Camryn BynumSCalifornia
4134Janarius RobinsonDEFlorida State
5157Ihmir Smith-MarsetteWRIowa
5168Zach DavidsonTECentral Missouri
6199Jaylen TwymanDTPittsburgh

McShay's favorite selection: Chazz Surratt

Surratt has sideline-to-sideline range, fast eyes and great instincts. He is a former QB who has good recognition and the closing burst to make plays. There is a lot of upside when it comes to coverage, and he shows the ability to stay with running backs and tight ends. There's some nickel linebacker potential there.

Minnesota has Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr at the second level, but Eric Wilson signed with Philadelphia. Surratt provides depth there. He was my No. 51 prospect, and the Vikes did a nice job landing him in the third round. He packs more power than you'd expect from a former quarterback, and I think he will play a big role for Minnesota down the road.

CBS Sports' top-graded pick: Christian Darrisaw (A)

I love this pick. I believe he will be the best tackle in the draft. It fills a need in a big way. – Pete Prisco


Table inside Article
RoundOverall PickNamePositionCollege
111Justin FieldsQBOhio State
239Teven JenkinsTOklahoma State
5151Larry BoromG/TMissouri
6217Khalil HerbertRBVirginia Tech
6221Dazz NewsomeWRNorth Carolina
6228Thomas Graham, Jr.CBOregon
7250Khyiris TongaDTBYU

McShay's favorite selection: Justin Fields

[The] Bears did a great job seeing the board come together and reacting, moving up nine spots to get my No. 4-ranked QB. Chicago finished No. 25 and No. 27 in QB [rankings] in 2020 and 2019, respectively. [The Bears] tried to land Russell Wilson, but it wasn't in the cards, and free-agent acquisition Andy Dalton wasn't calming the QB concern as the consolation prize. The Bears had to figure something out.

Fields can certainly be the answer. He is extremely accurate, drives the ball with velocity and gets the ball out quickly with a snap of the wrist. And I love his [physicality] and how tough he is in the pocket, using his mobility and strength to break tackles and extend plays. Through it all, Fields keeps his eyes downfield and can frequently hit receivers as they come open late. My knock on Fields is that he often wants to see the receiver come open, though, and he needs to work on his anticipation. But it will come, and the Bears landed themselves a potential top-tier NFL starter.

CBS Sports' highest-graded picks: Teven Jenkins (A+) and Thomas Graham, Jr. (A+)

Jenkins: Home-run selection for [Bears General Manager] Ryan Pace. Jenkins' film is first-round caliber. Nasty technician. Punishes people on a routine basis. Good length too. Big need at right tackle no more for Chicago. – Chris Trapasso

Graham: Not the biggest nor the most athletic, but always around the football. Elite ball production in college and plays bigger than his size at the catch point. Serious zone instincts. – Trapasso


Table inside Article
RoundOverall PickNamePositionCollege
17Penei SewellTOregon
241Levi OnwuzurikeDTWashington
372Alim McNeillDTN.C. State
3101Ifeatu MelifonwuCBSyracuse
4112Amon-Ra St. BrownWRUSC
4113Derrick BarnesLBPurdue
7257Jermar JeffersonRBOregon State

McShay's favorite selection: Penei Sewell

[For] a rebuilding organization with a new coaching staff, landing a foundational tackle is a game-changer. The Lions allowed 42 sacks last season, and Sewell is the top lineman in the class. His upside is immense.

I keep saying that it's a $20 cab ride to get around Sewell when rushing the passer because of his length, and he shows really good hand placement on his initial punch in pass protection. But he also will make an impact as a run-blocker, with elite foot speed as a zone blocker and power to move defenders off the ball.

CBS Sports' highest-graded picks: Levi Onwuzurike (A-) and Ifeatu Melifonwu (A-)

Onwuzurike: Fun, versatile defensive lineman who won at nose tackle despite being smaller. Heavy hands. Deceptive first-step quicks. Hand work could improve slightly. Seems like a big-time Dan Campbell pick. – Trapasso

Melifonwu: Long, insanely explosive outside corner who can stay with receivers because of good agility too. – Trapasso


Table inside Article
RoundOverall PickNamePositionCollege
129Eric StokesCBGeorgia
262Josh MyersCOhio State
385Amari RodgersWRClemson
4142Royce NewmanGOle Miss
5173Tedarrell SlatonDTFlorida
5178Shemar Jean-CharlesCBAppalachian State
6214Cole Van LanenT/GWisconsin
6220Isaiah McDuffieLBBoston College
7257Kylin HillRBMississippi State

McShay's favorite selection: Amari Rodgers

How the Aaron Rodgers situation plays out is still up in the air, but the Packers did land a really good and super versatile wideout in Amari Rodgers. […] [With] or without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers needed to target a receiver. They passed in Rounds 1 and 2, which might worry some fans. But Amari Rodgers has a lot of potential, and I think Aaron Rodgers would really appreciate the way he understands different routes and finds holes in the defense.

The Clemson product is built like a running back and is very tough after the catch. But his best trait is his ability to adjust to the ball, showing great focus as a pass-catcher and controlling his body through the catch.

CBS Sports' highest-graded pick: Amari Rodgers (A-), Royce Newman (A-) and Kylin Hill (A-)

Rodgers: Reminds me of Deebo Samuel Lite. Defenders glance off him. Just enough athleticism to get open underneath and tracks it well downfield. Smaller, shorter arms and not much vertical juice. Finally, a WR for the Packers! – Trapasso

Newman: Can play anywhere up front. Balance. Great hand work. Agile. Just has to get stronger and add more girth to his frame. Smart pick by Green Bay. – Trapasso

Hill: I don't know if Packers need another RB, but Hill has serious ability. Bouncy, authoritative type who flashed quality hands down the field. – Trapasso

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