The Vikings made 11 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, tied for the most in the league this year. Here's how they spent them.
23rd pick: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw received only one FBS offer as a two-star recruit out of Riverdale Baptist High in Upper Marlboro, Md., and that was to Virginia Tech. He would go on to become one of the only true freshmen to start Week 1 in the FBS in 2018, and finished his Hokies career as a three-year starter. The Vikings view him as a "pure left tackle," according to general manager Rick Spielman, and his 6-5, 322-pound frame was a primary draw to drafting him, according to coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have an opening at left tackle after releasing Riley Reiff in the offseason.
Darrisaw ascended in his final college season by not allowing a sack in nine games, according to Pro Football Focus. He is considered a "road grader" in the running game, but he also didn't allow a hit on the quarterback in 2020.
Darrisaw took a prep year at Fork Union Military Academy, where he improved his academic standing before joining the Hokies in 2018. The Virginia academy's strict rules didn't allow him a cell phone.
"Not having that cell phone for four months, you definitely got to kind of adjust in a way," he said Friday. "You've got to like interact with other people. It's like getting to know other people. That really helped me the most, just interacting with other people."
66th pick: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Mond improved his draft stock with a MVP performance at the Senior Bowl, taking advantage of a rare opportunity to play in front of scouts during the pre-draft process. Mond comes to the Vikings as Kirk Cousins' backup initially, but will get a chance to develop in a QB-friendly offense under Klint Kubiak and Andrew Janocko.
A dual-threat passer, the 6-3, 213-pound Mond threw for 71 touchdowns and ran for another 22 scores in four seasons at Texas A&M. His consistency and 59% career completion rate make him a work in progress entering the NFL. His high-draft status and 46 starts against SEC competition make him the first true starter-in-training behind the 33-year-old Cousins, who has two years left on his contract.
Mond is the first mid-round quarterback drafted by the Vikings since John David Booty in 2008's fifth round.
78th pick: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
Surratt is the Vikings' highest-selected player at the position since Eric Kendricks came to the team in the second round in 2015. He has plenty of speed and lateral quickness, though he'll have to show he can hold up at the NFL level after measuring only 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds.
Surratt was initially a quarterback for the Tar Heels, appearing in a game as recently as 2018 before converting to linebacker. He's considered a strong athlete but still raw at his new position, where he had 12.5 sacks in 24 games over the past two seasons.
He likely begins his career as a weakside linebacker alongside Kendricks and Anthony Barr, who can opt out of his contract after this season. He'll continue to develop his ability to read offenses and make plays in the NFL, while likely working to add weight to his frame as part of the Vikings' strength program.
86th pick: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
The Buckeyes have been a familiar pipeline of interior offensive line talent for NFL teams, producing players like Corey Linsley in recent years. After the Packers selected former Ohio State center Josh Myers to replace Linsley in the second round Friday, the Vikings took Davis to play the left guard position they'd plan to give to Pat Elflein last season.
Davis (6-4, 315 pounds) started 24 games at right guard at Ohio State, but says he can play any position on the offensive line. He could compete for a starting job with Dakota Dozier, who struggled in pass protection last season, and brings plenty of fierceness to the position for a team that was looking for toughness up front. Davis will need to improve his footwork in the NFL, but will get the chance to claim a job as part of a Vikings line that could feature five players the team drafted in the top three rounds.
90th pick: Patrick Jones, DE, Pittsburgh
The Vikings had looked for pass-rushing help before the draft, doing plenty of work on players like Miami's Jaelan Phillips and Michigan's Kwity Paye. Jones (6-4, 261 pounds) had a productive career in the ACC, finishing with 17.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his final two seasons.
The Vikings will need Jones to develop a more detailed set of pass-rushing moves in the NFL, but he's got the length and quick first step they look for at the position. He'll join D.J. Wonnum among the young pass rushers the Vikings hope to develop under Andre Patterson's teaching.
119th pick: Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State
Nwangwu (pronounced Wahn-goo) was one of college football's best kickoff returners as a freshman, ranking second in the Big 12. He suffered an Achilles injury before the 2017 season, but he returned in 2018 as the same dynamic returner. Nwangwu ranked seventh in the country last fall, averaging 28.9 yards per return. He was primarily a backup running back for the Cyclones, working behind starter Breece Hall.
Many of general manager Rick Spielman's picks during Saturday's late rounds focused on special teams, where Nwangwu (6-1, 210 pounds) could help replace the loss of running back and special teams ace Mike Boone, who signed with the Broncos in free agency.
Nwangwu was a mechanical engineering major at Iowa State. "If you ask my mom, definitely the NFL would be a Plan B," Nwangwu said. "They all came to America [from Nigeria] in their mid-20s. They came here to get a higher education. My dad has a business finance degree, my mom went pre-med; she has a master's as a nurse practitioner. But for me, I always wanted to play football."
125th pick: Camryn Bynum, S, California
Bynum played cornerback for the Golden Bears, and the two-time team captain started 42 games over four seasons in college. But the Vikings drafted him with plans for a move to safety, where Bynum (6-0, 196 pounds) said he's looking forward to flashing his intelligence. "Scouts rave about his personal character," wrote NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein. He's just the latest Vikings draft pick who was a former team captain, joining Ohio State's Wyatt Davis and Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones – third-round picks on Friday.
Bynum said he prides himself on learning new things, adding he doesn't like to "waste time" and doesn't play video games. He took up the piano during quarantine. "Like you study your playbook and watch film," Bynum said, "the same way when I'm learning my music, I read the music sheet, do little drills with my fingers."
134th pick: Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida St.
With the requisite size, length, and quickness, Robinson (6-5, 263 pounds) fits the Vikings' style of edge rushers under Zimmer and Patterson. Robinson has a wild 86-inch wingspan (Danielle Hunter's is 83 ¼"), massive hands and enough athletic traits that enticed Spielman into taking another fourth-round swing on the D-line. Robinson was a four-star recruit, but he didn't have more than three sacks in a single season.
Robinson said he felt like he could've been drafted earlier, but is motivated by the brief slide and previous adversity. His family home was destroyed by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla. in 2018, when Florida St. set up a GoFundMe account to help his family rebuild. "I use that as my 'why,'" Robinson said. "Why I'm going out here and what I need to get done."
157th pick: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
Smith-Marsette was one of the more versatile weapons in the Big Ten, showing off that range in the 2019 Holiday Bowl against USC, when he scored touchdowns via rushing, receiving, and kickoff return. The former three-star recruit out of Newark, N.J., scored 20 touchdowns – 14 receiving, four rushing, and two returning – during his college career, adding 1,889 yards from scrimmage. The former Big Ten return specialist of the year will give the Vikings another option in an ongoing search at kick returner.
Smith-Marsette didn't get into football until his sophomore year at Weequahic High School. He previously played water polo at St. Benedict's Prep. "I said why not try it?" Smith-Marsette said. "Fell in love with it. Could've took that all the way, too. I feel like I was one of the better players in that sport. It teaches you patience, toughness; when you want to touch the bottom of the pool, you can't."
168th pick: Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri
The massive Davidson, listed 6-7 and 245 pounds, was an effective punter in addition to luring NFL evaluators with his 15 touchdown catches in 2019. He's a potential emergency option on the punt team, but the Vikings are likely drawn to his upside as an above-average athlete who flashed strong hands in a breakout 2019 season.
Davidson didn't play football in 2020 with Central Missouri's season canceled because of the pandemic. His combination of size, athleticism and gaudy one-year production make him an intriguing developmental tight end behind Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin and Brandon Dillon on the Vikings roster. Davidson said he can also serve as an emergency backup long snapper.
199th pick: Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
Twyman opted out of the 2020 season, but he was very productive the last time he played for Pittsburgh in 2019. He was given first-team All-ACC honors after racking up 12 tackles for losses and 10.5 sacks in that breakout season. He's not the biggest interior defender at 6-2 and 301 pounds, but he also isn't the first productive "undersized" pass rusher from Pitt — he's following in L.A. Rams star Aaron Donald's footsteps.
Twyman said he opted out of last season to take care of his family. "Just blessed to get drafted so we don't have to worry about those financial problems," he said. He's reunited with fellow former Pitt defensive lineman Patrick Jones II, who was a Vikings third-round pick on Friday.
Star Tribune staff writers Ben Goessling and Mark Craig contributed reporting.