As the Minnesota Vikings prepare for the 2021 NFL draft, these two players should have their names circled for different reasons
Believe it or not, the Minnesota Vikings are not that far away from being a contender.
All Kirk Cousins jokes aside, Minnesota’s offense will be the x-factor to its success in 2021. The team has two 1,000 yard targets in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. The run game will be its bread and butter after a stellar season for Dalvin Cook behind the offensive line.
The defense though? That’s in need of an overall upgrade.
As the 2021 NFL draft is right around the corner, the Vikings will have options when picking at No. 14. There’s always going to be a name that’s worth considering that seems perfect. Then, there’s going to be one that feel like a reach or won’t ever meet the potential.
For Minnesota, here’s the one player they should target and one player they must avoid when Rick Spielman is on the clock.
Player to target : USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
One thing that has to improve is the overall offensive of line for Minnesota. The team released Riley Reiff this offseason and only has Rashod Hill at left tackle. Last season, Dakota Dozier graded out with a 44.6 overall from Pro Football Focus, finishing as one of the worst pass-blocking guards in the NFL.
The Vikings allowed 39 total sacks last season and over 67 pressures. If they want an upgrade, adding Vera-Tucker to solidify one of those roles makes sense.
Based off upside and versatility, one could argue that the former Trojan is a top 10 talent in the class. His thick frame and wide stance allows him to match up well in one-on-one sets that helps him win in both pass and run protection. Vera-Tucker also is quite nimble and seems natural on the outside despite his smaller frame.
For Mike Zimmer and the offense, they could view Vera-Tucker as a tackle of the future. If he struggles, that agility, speed and quick punch will add tremendous value inside as an offensive guard of the future. Either way, Minnesota needs help at both positions and Vera-Tucker could play either role to upgrade each position.
With versatility and a deep tackle last, Vera-Tucker is an ideal option to fix the trenches.
Player to avoid: Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh
There’s always a name whose combine or pro day numbers solidify them as a first-round pick. This year’s model is Oweh coming from Happy Valley.
Two numbers stick out for the 6-foot-5 defensive end: 4.39 and zero. The first number is the time he ran at Penn State’s Pro Day last month. The second is the number of sacks he recorded last season for the Nittany Lions.
Oweh’s physique and frame should allow him to win against weaker offensive linemen off initial snap. He has an explosive first step and has shown that despite still learning the game, he’s quick enough to decipher the run and make key stops.
The Vikings need pass-rushing help after finishing with just 23 sacks last season. Oweh’s pass-rushing skills are limited to say the least, and he struggles with overall form attacking the offensive line.
The edge class as a whole is very hit or miss already, but Oweh looks like an athlete attacking the quarterback more than a solidified pass-rusher. Although there’s upside with Oweh, Minnesota needs plug-and-play talent to contend next season, meaning he can’t be an option when selecting.