4 potential Vikings draft targets nobody is talking about in 2021

(Photo by Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) Jamie Newman
(Photo by Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) Jamie Newman /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) Daelin Hayes /

Daelin Hayes – DE/OLB (Notre Dame)

Generating pressure in opposing backfields was something the Vikings struggled to do in 2020 without the presence of stud defensive end Danielle Hunter. The Pro Bowler missed the entire campaign with a serious neck injury that is set to be fully healed next season. But the team needs to address the obvious need for better options opposite him and throughout their depth chart.

This isn’t the most stellar group of defensive linemen that have ever joined the NFL from the college ranks. There is every chance the Vikings could use the No. 14 overall selection on a supreme physical specimen such as Kwity Paye. But if they choose to wait until Day 2 or 3, then a prospect like Daelin Hayes represents a low-risk, high reward pick-up.

Hayes has a physique that already appears NFL-ready and comes with the versatility to play either as a defensive end or standing up as an outside linebacker. He is a powerful presence rushing the passer, and with a little more discipline in running situations, there is every chance the Notre Dame stud could emerge as a starter sooner rather than later.

Much will depend on which direction the Vikings go in the first round. The need for a franchise left tackle is obvious, so it wouldn’t be the biggest shock in the world to see them prioritize this without a second-rounder to call upon.