The Minnesota Vikings‘ draft plans are looking more like Charlie Kelly’s conspiracy wall by the day.
Reports have leaked that the team is willing to trade up, trade down and is also content with taking the fourth-best lineman in the draft, USC offensive lineman Alijah-Vera Tucker at No. 14 overall.
But what if a top-five quarterback prospect fell to the Vikings?
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Vikings ‘Would Pull the Trigger’ for Trey Lance
KSTP reporter Darren Wolfson reportedly said that if North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance “is staring [the Vikings] in the face at 14, I think they would pull the trigger.”
Asked to clarify the reported quote, Wolfson added that Minnesota, which has done its diligence in scouting Lance, doesn’t think he’ll be there at No. 14. The Vikings would also have to consider who else is on the board.
Peter King reported on Monday that Minnesota’s needs on the offensive line are too great, and the Vikings would likely take Vera-Tucker over top-two defensive end prospect Jaelen Phillips.
If Vera-Tucker and Lance were available at No. 14, the Vikings would find themselves in a quandary of either building for the future or prioritizing pass protection this season for Kirk Cousins.
Selecting Lance would defer any chance of securing a starting left tackle in this year’s draft and would likely spell confidence in an internal replacement for the vacancy left by Riley Reiff — most likely Ezra Cleveland.
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Vikings Could Still Fix Offensive Line
The 2021 NFL Draft class is considered to be deepest at quarterback and offensive line — both have been a high priority for Minnesota this offseason.
However, beyond Penei Sewell (Oregon), Rashawn Slater (Northwestern), Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech) and Vera-Tucker, few tackles in the league could take the starting reigns at left tackle from the other options on the Vikings’ roster.
Minnesota could find a starting guard as late as the third round in Ben Cleveland (Georgia) or Trey Smith (Tennessee). Cleveland allowed just 13 pressures across 600 pass-blocking snaps in the past three seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Brian Baldinger pointed to Smith as having one of the highest ceilings of any lineman in the draft.
There are valuable Day 1 starting candidates available depending on how the Vikings decide to shuffle the line this year.
But the dilemma becomes what positions take a back seat if the Vikings select a quarterback and a lineman early in the draft. A replacement for safety Anthony Harris is still needed, along with a weakside linebacker to replace Eric Wilson.
Both roles have candidates in camp, but those positions offer more value to the Vikings in 2021 than drafting a quarterback that wouldn’t start until at least 2023 once Cousins’ contract expires.