Here is Vikings Wire’s ideal NFL draft for Minnesota in 2021:
The Vikings trade back in the first round, landing a second-round pick
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. Photo: Harrison Barden/USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota has plenty of pressing needs for big roles in 2021. If the Vikings accumulated more early round picks, the team would have a better chance at landing a starting-caliber player. If Minnesota traded back in the first round — receiving a second-round pick in the process — that would be a great way to start the draft.
The Vikings take a defensive end early
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly. Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports
Even though Danielle Hunter is presumably returning, the Vikings need to shore up the position opposite to him. That probably involves taking a defensive end early. Hoping D.J. Wonnum or Stephen Weatherly step up is a risky bet to make. Also, a good defensive end can help Hunter, by preventing offenses from honing in on the Vikings’ best pass rusher.
Minnesota lands an offensive lineman who can start
Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland. Photo: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings still have not said definitively what they’re going to do with Ezra Cleveland. Regardless of where the team puts Cleveland on the offensive line in 2021, Minnesota will have at least one opening in that position group. So the Vikings have to make sure they find a starter in the early rounds. Whether they’re a tackle or a guard isn’t of the utmost importance right now, because Cleveland can play on the interior or exterior next season.
The Vikings draft an enticing wide receiver prospect
Minnesota Vikings wide receivers Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe. Photo: AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
In 2020, the Vikings went with Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe as the third wide receivers for the most part. Minnesota should add to that position in the draft, to at least make sure Johnson and Beebe have competition. If Minnesota landed a wide receiver with big-play potential, the makeup of their offense could change.
Minnesota finds someone who can return punts
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe. Photo: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Punt returner isn’t the most valuable position in all of football. But the Vikings of 2020 proved that it can still affect games in a negative way. Minnesota had to deal with muffed punts, fumbles amid punt returns and just a lack of chunk plays from returns this past season. If the Vikings landed their punt returner of the future, that could be an underrated acquisition.
The Vikings add a backup quarterback in the draft
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and quarterback Sean Mannion. Photo: Michael Conroy/AP Photo.
Minnesota currently does not have a solidified backup quarterback on its roster. Nate Stanley and Jake Browning are both options for that spot, but those two were on the practice squad this past season. The Vikings relied on Sean Mannion to backup Kirk Cousins in 2020. Mannion is currently a free agent. Imagine if the Vikings went out and got a quarterback who could start a few seasons down the road? That could really help the team with the salary cap, which could lead to them fixing big holes. This draftee quarterback doesn’t have to come in and start right away, but he does have to have potential. Why shouldn’t Minnesota take a chance?