3 needs for Vikings to target with top draft pick after first free agency wave
By Nik Edlund
Rashod Hill is still the only free-agent offensive linemen the Vikings have signed this year. Re-signing Hill was actually a solid move as he provides depth at both tackle positions. But with the release of Riley Reiff earlier this month, Minnesota’s offensive line actually got worse.
Either Hill or Ezra Cleveland will probably start at left tackle for the Vikings next season. Either option is a major drop-off in talent from Reiff.
If Cleveland moves to the left side of the line, that puts Kyle Hinton and Dru Samia as Minnesota’s two starting guards. This is a disgusting and disastrous thought to have. The Vikings have to bring in a couple of guards during this year’s NFL Draft and they could also use another tackle to compete for Reiff’s old job.
Minnesota could address either of these needs with their 2021 first-round draft pick. If they want to go with a tackle in round one, they should hope Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is still available. Slater is extremely strong, he has great technique, and he has a sturdy base that he uses to anchor and fend off edge rushers. He can also play guard, which would give the team flexibility.
Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw is another tackle who could make sense for the Vikings in the first round. He’s got great length and athletic ability in addition to being as nasty as they come.
If Minnesota wants a straight-up guard prospect this year, USC’s Alija Vera-Tucker could be their choice in the first round. He’s extremely athletic and he should be ready to step in and start from day one.
The Vikings’ offensive line has to get better between now and the start of next season. This year’s NFL Draft may be the best way to do that and adding an impact player at guard or tackle with their first-round selection should help improve the unit.