Mock drafts link Vikings to offensive line, edge rusher

Will the Vikings pass on a QB if one of the top prospects falls to them?
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Dreaming of the Vikings taking a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night? You might have to keep dreaming if the mock drafts are correct, because most of them have all five of the top quarterback prospects – Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance – being taken in the top 10 picks. 

The Vikings have the No. 14 selection and they have a boatload of needs, including finding an eventual replacement for Kirk Cousins, who is sitting on a mammoth $45 million salary cap hit in 2022. 

Minnesota needs to find a left tackle to protect Cousins' blind side, in addition to needs on the interior offensive line, a third wide receiver to support Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, linebacker, safety and cornerback depth, and someone capable of putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Oh, and they might need a kicker... 

So who is it going to be at No. 14? General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday that no position is off limits this year, but it's unclear if he'll be drafting for need or picking the best player available. 

Ben Goessling, beat writer for the Star Tribune, predicts the Vikings will take Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw with the No. 14 pick. And if not Darrisaw, he thinks Minnesota could go with Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, or Northwestern lineman Rashawn Slater. He also says Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye "piqued" the Vikings' interest. 

Longtime NFL columnist Peter King has the Vikings improving the offensive line with Vera-Tucker. And he's got some steam behind his prediction. 

"I believe I lead the Vikings’ chunk of my mock annually with this sentence: GM Rick Spielman really wants to trade down. Nothing new this year. Maybe he’ll find an aggressive taker if one of the receivers is still on the board. I had Jaelan Phillips here until making the switch Sunday mid-day. Lots of times, in mock-scienceville, you’re influenced by the last voice you hear. So I had Phillips until the last three people I texted with Sunday told me the need is too great on the Minnesota offensive line, and Vera-Tucker the person and prospect just too solid, and Phillips the person and prospect a little risky, and so I hit the delete button. Vera-Tucker, with 13 starts at guard and six at tackle, and was voted the top offensive lineman in the conference by his foes last year. Seems a very safe pick."

Charles Davis of NFL.com is also on the Vera-Tucker bandwagon for Minnesota. 

"I tend to lean toward defense with the Vikings and coach Mike Zimmer, but Vera-Tucker is too good to pass up for a team with O-line needs in a few spots ... all of which the USC product can play (one at a time, of course)."

But Davis' mock, if it rings even somewhat accurate, would have some fans up in arms because he has Alabama QB Mac Jones going 15th overall to the Patriots. Fans would also be crazed if the Vikings passed on Justin Fields the way Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm sees it. He has the Vikings taking Phillips, with Fields slipping all the way to the Patriots at No. 15. 

John Clayton, the former ESPN reporter who writes for the Washington Post, has Lance slipping to the Patriots at 15 while the Vikings, in his mock, would go with the offensive lineman, Darrisaw.

ESPN on Wednesday said the Vikings are a team "to watch" in connection to Slater. 

Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Daniel Jeremiah have not updated their mock drafts for weeks so will avoid posting outdated material. We can note, however, that all three experts had Minnesota going offensive line or edge rusher at 14. 

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