The Vikings made 11 picks in the first six rounds of the NFL draft over the weekend, building the league's largest draft class for a second straight year even without a seventh-round pick or the kind of depth offered by recent groups of college players.
They made significant investments on their offensive line, with first-round tackle Christian Darrisaw and third-rounder Wyatt Davis, while drafting a quarterback in Kellen Mond they can develop behind Kirk Cousins. As general manager Rick Spielman said after the draft on Saturday, though, the Vikings aren't done building their 2021 roster — and a team that went 7-9 a year ago still has plenty of work to do before training camp.
Here are five questions still facing the Vikings after the 2021 draft.
Q: Did the Vikings do enough to help their pass rush?
The plan for improving an anemic facet of last year's defense has always rested on bringing Danielle Hunter back from a herniated disc in his neck (though questions about his happiness with his contract remain). The Vikings added defensive end Patrick Jones in the third round, and took Janarius Robinson in the fourth before adding defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman with their final pick. They'll need to hit on one of those players, or have second-year prospects like D.J. Wonnum and James Lynch develop, to keep teams from keying on Hunter. Stephen Weatherly helps the group, as well, but the Vikings might benefit from adding another veteran at some point.
Q: They didn't add a cornerback. Will that group improve?
Coach Mike Zimmer admitted after last season he misjudged the Vikings' roster, and the team was aggressive in free agency with the addition of Patrick Peterson and the decision to bring Mackensie Alexander back to Minnesota. But the only defensive back the Vikings drafted — Cal's Camryn Bynum — will shift to safety in the NFL, which means the Vikings are counting on some combination of a) Peterson making a return to form in his 11th NFL season; b) Cameron Dantzler improving in Year 2; c) Jeff Gladney being available (after an April arrest) and taking a big step forward; or d) meaningful contributions from Mike Hughes (in a make-or-break year), Harrison Hand or Kris Boyd. The group wasn't likely to be the Vikings' top draft priority, but it still carries questions into 2021.
Q: Is there enough receiver depth behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen?
The Vikings use three-receiver sets less than most teams in the league, but still could use reliable options behind their two headliners. They took Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round, but he could be more of a return man in Year 1 while he learns how to bring more than just straight-line speed to the receiver position. That means the Vikings could again be counting on Chad Beebe or Bisi Johnson to step into a WR3 role, absent another addition or breakthrough from a young player.
Q: Will the look of the offensive line change between now and camp?
As it is, the Vikings could go into the season with a starting five comprised solely of draft picks from the past four years: Darrisaw, Davis, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland and Brian O'Neill. Dakota Dozier will battle to keep his starting job, and Mason Cole could be in the mix after a trade from Arizona. Reliable swing tackle Rashod Hill is still there, too, and the Darrisaw pick could make Minnesota a less attractive destination for a veteran free agent like Kansas City's Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz, who are both still evaluating options as they recover from surgery. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings add another tackle they think could start if Darrisaw isn't ready, but they seemed confident over the weekend the 23rd overall pick could step in and start.
Q: How will Kellen Mond's presence affect Kirk Cousins?
The Vikings won't have a quarterback competition this year, Spielman said, and Cousins took to Twitter to welcome Mond, along with the rest of the Vikings' Day 2 picks, to Minnesota on Friday night. As a former fourth-round pick who was drafted to be Robert Griffin III's backup in Washington before playing on two franchise tags, Cousins is well-acquainted with the business realities of the NFL, and he's chosen short-term guarantees over the five-year deals many QBs take, saying this winter he looked forward to playing out his current deal (which runs through 2022). So while there won't be a QB competition this year, Mond's presence does change the calculus somewhat.
The last Vikings quarterback who didn't become a starter after being selected in the first three rounds was Bill Cappleman in 1970. You can either believe Mond is here so the Vikings can consider him as a possible starting option down the road, or you can believe he's the most unique Minnesota QB pick in a half-century. Cousins has always seemed sensible enough about how the NFL works to understand why Mond is here. He has said before that he wants to finish his career in Minnesota, but that he'll have to play well enough to make that happen. He turns 33 in August, and Mond's presence raises the stakes for Cousins somewhat.