How cutting Riley Reiff impacts the Vikings plans for the 2021 NFL Draft

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Riley Reiff
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Riley Reiff /
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Minnesota Vikings
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Taking an offensive lineman in the first round is now a huge possibility

Prior to the Vikings cutting Riley Reiff, drafting an offensive lineman at pick No. 14 in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft was definitely in the mix. But after letting Reiff go, it becomes one of the favorite positions to be taken with that choice.

While defensive end, defensive tackle, and even wide receiver are still possibilities for Minnesota in the first round, guard has now become such a huge need it could overshadow them all.

If the Vikings go with Ezra Cleveland at left tackle for next season, they will also have to find two new starting guards. It would be wise for Minnesota to ensure that one of these guards is a top-tier prospect who can be an impact starter right out of the gate. Some names who could fit that mold would be Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater or USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker.

These prospects are both very intriguing as they can start out at guard and eventually move out to tackle at some point in their careers.

Of the two, Slater would be the better choice. This guy is a freak blessed with unmatched strength and athleticism. He played plenty of left tackle in college and he was even able to shut down Chase Young when he was playing for Ohio State.

The Vikings could put him at guard and then let him compete to be the left tackle of the future if Cleveland fails. The same could be said about Vera-Tucker, though his film isn’t as impressive as Slater’s.

It’s also possible Minnesota could just take a straight-up offensive tackle prospect like Christian Darrisaw. This would mean that they view Cleveland more as a guard. But rolling with a rookie left tackle in what could be a do-or-die season for Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman could mark the end of the road for them.