The Minnesota Vikings finished with a 7-9 record last year, which was a bit of a disappointment, to say the least. Many had the Vikings pegged to be a playoff team in 2020, but instead, Minnesota fell short. This offseason, the front office has done its part to improve the roster and they appear to be close to becoming a legitimate playoff-caliber team once again.
For a team that finished middle of the pack last season, this year’s draft is essential for both the present and the future.
Defense is where this team needs the most help, as the Vikings gave up 49 total touchdowns in 2020. They also only finished with 23 total sacks on the year, struggling mightily to get pressure on the opposing quarterback. Improving the pass rush has to be a top priority heading into the draft. There are plenty of talented pass rushers to be had this year, but at 14th overall, the Vikings could be taking one of the best available depending on how things shake out in front of them.
Sticking with the theme of defense, this squad could use some help in the secondary. After the disturbing news on Jeff Gladney, it’s likely this franchise searches for his replacement as soon as possible or at least some depth at the position. Luckily for them, there should be some solid cornerbacks available around the 14th pick, which would be a perfect option for this team.
The offense is the strongest part of this Vikings team. Dalvin Cook is the focal point of the Vikings, but with Justin Jefferson emerging as one of the best young receivers in the league, the team has plenty to work with on the offensive side. However, the team could always use a boost on the offensive line, which could be a solid choice for the them in the first round as well. With that said, here are three perfect options for the Vikings’ first pick in the NFL draft.
Vikings Option One: Azeez Ojulari
Azeez Ojulari is the type of player that just jumps off the page. He’s been a fantastic pass rusher the last two years playing for the Georgia Bulldogs. He finished 2020 with 31 total tackles (12.5 for a loss), 9.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles.
The guy is a wrecking machine on the defensive line and should be able to adjust to the professional level smoothly. With the pass rush being one of the worst in the league last year, Ojulari would step in and potentially give the Vikings an immediate boost alongside Michael Pierce and Danielle Hunter. Knowing they play in a division with NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, getting to the quarterback takes priority.
Vikings Option Two: Patrick Surtain II
It’s yet to be determined about Jeff Gladney, but from the looks of it, it doesn’t bode well for Gladney or his career in Minnesota. The Vikings take an obvious hit at cornerback because of that situation. Luckily for them, they have a good chance to obtain Patrick Surtain II in this year’s draft. Surtain II balled out in his final year at Alabama, finishing with 37 total tackles, nine pass deflections, and one interception.
The former Crimson Tide cornerback is one of the best defensive players available in the draft. He’d be able to fill Gladney’s role smoothly, giving the Vikings defense some much-needed youth and depth to the roster. He might not be a major factor in his rookie season, but Surtain II can be a valuable asset to the Vikings defense for years to come.
Vikings Option Three: Rashawn Slater
Although the offense is the strongest part of this team, ensuring the offensive line for the future is never a bad idea. Rashawn Slater has been one of the most consistent offensive linemen in college while playing at Northwestern. Some believe he’s as good of a prospect as Penei Sewell.
With the better part of the Vikings’ offense aging, finding some youth on the offensive line helps provide longevity for Minnesota. Additionally, Slater is a big-bodied tackle that will protect Kirk Cousins at all costs, something the Vikings have struggled with in recent years. Drafting Slater might not be the most exciting selection for Vikings fans, but it could be a decision that pays off down the road.