Free Agency or Draft: How should the Vikings fill their needs in 2021?

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) Gregory Rousseau
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) Gregory Rousseau /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images) Shelby Harris /

Defensive Tackle

How the Vikings should fill this need: Free Agency

Christian Barmore of Alabama has been a popular mock draft choice for the Vikings this year and many fans would probably be just fine with that selection. While Barmore has everything the Vikings need with power, burst, and big, meaty hands to knock down passes, the truth is they would get more bang out of their buck by addressing this need in free agency.

It just tends to take young defensive tackles at least a season to get acclimated to the speed and overall talent of the NFL. Take a look at what happened last year.

The Carolina Panthers took Auburn’s Derrick Brown with the No. 7 overall choice in 2020. He then went on to finish with just 34 tackles and two sacks in his rookie season. He didn’t come close to giving the Panthers a return on the investment they made in him with their high draft selection.

Javon Kinlaw was the second defensive tackle off the board last year, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers just a few picks after Brown. Kinlaw posted a similar line of 33 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2020.

While those guys are both breakout candidates for next season, the Vikings can’t afford to wait. They need someone who has been that interior disruptor before and has a proven track record in the league.

There are plenty of options for Minnesota to choose from in free agency this year. Some names they could consider would be players like Kawaan Short, Jurell Casey, and Shelby Harris.

Harris has 16.5 career sacks and he absolutely destroyed the Vikings’ interior offensive line when they played each other back in 2019. He should be affordable as he’s coming off a one-year deal that paid him just over $3 million and he is likely to get less than that in the open market.

Harris would have a bigger impact than a rookie for Minnesota next season and he would give the Vikings’ that penetrating three-technique defensive tackle they haven’t had since the days of Sheldon Richardson.