NFC North Draft Outlook Part 2

NFC North Draft is ready! In the last addition of the draft outlook, the draft outlook and needs for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears were identified.

This addition of the draft outlook will continue with an in depth look at the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions.

Minnesota Vikings 2021 Draft Guide

  • Vikings 2020 Record (7-9)
  • Draft Picks for 2021
    • RD1 #14
    • RD3 #79
    • RD3 #91
    • RD4 #110
    • RD4 #116
    • RD5 #125
    • RD5 #141
    • RD5 #155
    • RD6 #175
    • RD7 #206
  • Notable free agents
    • Anthony Harris – FS
    • Eric Wilson – OLB
  • Team Needs
    • Tier 1- EDGE, S, IDL
    • Tier 2- CB, IOL, LB
    • Tier 3- WR, QB

After looking like a fringe Super Bowl Contender from 2015-2017. The Minnesota Vikings have yet to break through and enter into the elite category of NFL teams. An unfortunate and brutal injury to franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had the team cycling between Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, and for the past three seasons Kirk Cousins.

Mike Zimmer is a defensive minded coach and has relied on this defense to keep the team competitive while the offense has been mediocre. A young defense in 2020 held this team back when it had finally achieved consistent offensive production.

Kirk Cousins had one of his best seasons of his eight year pro career in 2020. Cousins completed 67.6% of his passes for 4,265 yards, 35 TDs, and 13 INTs while running back Dalvin Cook had 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 17 total TDs. Rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson was a home run pick and will be a force for years to come.

The Minnesota Vikings have 10 picks in the 2021 draft. The front office of the Vikings wants to build their team through the draft and are not usually big spenders in free agency. In 2021 the Vikings will have $9.5 million in cap space but can free up space by releasing aging veteran Michael Pierce. In 2022 The Vikings cap space will jump up to $31 million.

Minnesota’s defense was porous in the secondary as a result of starting three corners all under the age of 23. I don’t expect the corners to be any worse next year than they were this year. The way to help a young secondary is to force the opponent’s quarterback to throw quickly. Pressure form the defensive line and linebackers will allow this.

Picking at 14 is usually a tough spot for a team, the top prospects are off the board at this spot depending on depth at the important positions of quarterback, offensive tackle, and edge rushers. This won’t be the case this draft as the need for quarterbacks is high for almost every team in the top 10. 5 quarterbacks could go in those spots allowing tackles and EDGE players to fall to a team like the Vikings

At pick number 14, the Vikings should take Gregory Rousseau, EDGE (University of Miami). I had the luxury of watching Rousseau rise through the UM program.

Rousseau has the ability to play across the defensive line in different packages. Rousseau possesses speed, strength, and flexibility allowing him to bull rush the interior or speed pass tackles outside.

A coach like Zimmer is perfect for Rousseau who is still raw as a prospect and could use a few more pass rushing moves. Learning from Zimmer and veteran defensive lineman Danielle Hunter can turn Rousseau into a perennial pro bowler.

Detroit Lions 2021 Draft Outlook

  • 2020 record (5-11)
  • Draft Picks for 2021
    • RD1 #7
    • RD2 #41
    • RD3 #72
    • RD3 #89
    • RD3 #93 (From Rams)
    • RD4 #103
    • RD5 #137
  • Notable Free Agents
    • Kenny Golladay (WR)
    • Romeo Okwara (DE)
    • Marvin Jones (WR)
  • Team Needs
    • Tier 1- WR, CB, OT
    • Tier 2- ILB, OLB, DL
    • Tier 3- RB, QB, S

The Detroit Lions are hitting the reset button and rebuilding the team. Detroit finally fired failed Patriots imposter Matt Patricia and hired an absolute savage in Dan Campbell. Campbell is hoping to take the playoff starved Lions back to contention in a quick rebuild.

Detroit shipped long time franchise quarterback Matt Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams and received 1st round picks in 2022 and 2023, a 3rd round pick in 2021 as well as former 2016 2nd overall pick Jared Goff. The Lions are hoping that Goff can help trigger a quick rebuild or act as a bridge quarterback for a rookie in the coming years.

A new front office has also been hired in Detroit. Brad Holmes was hired as the general manager of the Lions from the Rams in January of this year. Holmes is an 18 year veteran of the NFL working his way up from a scouting intern to one of the most trusted members of the Rams.

The Lions are in a rough spot with their cap space in 2021. According to Over the Cap the Lions will be $9 million dollars in the red and will need to cut aging veterans on bad deals. If they cut Desomand Trufant, Jesse James, and Chase Daniel before June 1st they can get back into the black.

Detroit is picking at #7 in a quarterback needy draft that can possibly see 3 go in the top 6 picks. In acquiring quarterback Jared Goff from the Rams the Lions don’t have an immediate need at quarterback in this draft. For being a “defensive” coach, Matt Patricia consistently fielded a bottom 20 ranked defense and signed veterans to large deals that have hamstrung this team.

A pick in the top 10 of a deep draft will allow the Lions an opportunity to trade back in the first round to a team looking to jump up for a quarterback. If I was sitting in the GM chair I would;

Trade pick number 7 to any of the 49ers, Patriots, or Washington Football team
Take a WR in the first round. At this point in the teens it would likely be Jaylan Waddle or Terrance Marshall JR. If a WR is not available then best player available on defense

From whatever trade I make I would want to make sure I am getting at least three picks in return. Next year’s 1st is definitely what I start at. The Rams 2022 1st round pick will likely be late and the Lions won’t be terrible enough to land top 5 for a quarterback. So acquiring draft capital for a trade in the future is crucial.