The Vikings don’t have a second-round pick as the NFL Draft continues on Friday, but draft slots are often fluid situations for general manager Rick Spielman.
There are currently 33 picks until the Vikings are on the clock again, but with a stockpile of third-round picks – the 66th, 78th, 86th and 90th overall – Spielman is feeling like Minnesota will be on the move again on Friday.
“We have more than enough ammunition, I believe, to move up into the second round,” he said Thursday night. “Or maybe we move down and get six third-round picks. I’m just kidding. We’ll see what happens.”
The Vikings filled a major need by drafting ex-Virginia Tech left tackle Christian Darrisaw during Thursday night’s first round, with the rookie blocker expected to protect quarterback Kirk Cousins’ blindside.
But the Vikings still need help affecting opposing quarterbacks, and there are enticing pass rushers available, even after Thursday night ended with a run on defensive ends. Four of the last five picks were edge rushers going to the Saints, Bills, Ravens and Bucs.
Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins and Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham Jr. are among the best still on the board from a deep edge rusher class.
After Spielman made it five straight years in which the Vikings drafted an offensive lineman within the first three rounds, coach Mike Zimmer will likely be banging the table for his defense. The Vikings have already fielded calls about potential moves on Friday, but Spielman prefers to wait until his options are clearer.
“You get a lot of calls,” he said. “I don’t put a lot into those calls until you’re actually on the clock or until teams are two or three picks ahead of you or below you because you have better vision of what players are going to fall to you.”
If the Vikings don’t go edge rusher with the next pick, other routes could have them land a defensive back, linebacker or receiver. There would also be little surprise if Spielman took another offensive lineman on Friday with one of his many selections.
Trevon Moehrig, considered a top safety out of TCU, may be the best defensive back still available. Cornerbacks who could have their names called Friday include Florida St.’s Asante Samuel Jr., Georgia’s Tyson Campbell and UCF’s Aaron Robinson.
The Vikings’ launch point to trade up for a player – the 66th overall pick – is the second slot in the third round, which Spielman acquired from the Jets on Thursday night while trading back in the first round.
“[The 66th pick] gives you a lot of opportunity to do a lot of things,” Spielman said.
Sitting on a boatload of draft picks may not have as much value in 2021. The draft class is smaller, with the NCAA granting extra eligibility during the pandemic, so Spielman may be willing to part with more picks than normal.
“A lot of the players that were going to get picked in the draft this year, a lot of them probably decided to stay,” Zimmer said. “Rick told me there’s like 500 less players in the draft this year than previous years. The pool of players is a lot smaller.”
In a familiar distinction for Spielman, the Vikings’ 11 picks this year – including six during Saturday’s final rounds – are tied for the most (with the Cowboys), a year after Minnesota’s 15 selections set a common draft era record.