You don't have to be a draft expert to craft an informed opinion about what the Vikings need — and very well might address — with the No. 14 overall pick in the NFL draft, which is now just a little over three weeks away.
Their offensive line has been subpar in recent seasons. They cut their most experienced tackle, solid-but-unspectacular offensive tackle Riley Reiff. They did that in part to create the cap room needed to load up on defensive help in free agency, but so far they haven't done much to address the "addition" side of the offensive line ledger.
It all seems to add up to an offensive lineman with their first round pick — which, remember, is their only real premium pick since they don't have a second-round pick and will next choose at No. 78 in the third round.
If you are a draft expert, as it is suggested on the resume of ESPN's Todd McShay, you might reach that same conclusion. Indeed, McShay in his most recent mock draft has the Vikings taking versatile Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater — someone who could play guard or tackle — with that No. 14 pick.
On a conference call Monday, McShay had some expanded thoughts on both Slater and the Vikings' needs overall.
"I think it's likely" the Vikings will take an offensive lineman, McShay said, "but I also think they could take an edge rusher, too.
"These offensive tackles are really good. I'm not saying that they are going to be the best in the league, but with Penei Sewell from Oregon and Rashawn Slater from Northwestern and even Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC, I think they are all plug and play starters right away and that they are going to be really good pros. I think they are all probably three of the safest picks in the first round, to be honest with you. We've talked to much about the quarterbacks and receivers. These guys are ready to play in the NFL, and I'm excited to see them at the next level."
McShay has Sewell going No. 13 to the Chargers, one spot before the Vikings pick, though he said Sewell could go as high as No. 5. Vera-Tucker is tabbed as the No. 16 pick to the Dolphins, in what would amount to a run on offensive lineman with the Vikings part of it.
In McShay's mock, he has five QBs going in the top 11 — including Mac Jones to the 49ers at No. 3. For anyone who was still dreaming of a Kirk Cousins trade this offseason, it sure doesn't seem like it will be with long-rumored partner San Francisco, which pulled off a big trade and sacrificed a lot of draft capital to move up nine spots to No. 3.
On the flip side, those five QBs and a bevy of other skill position players who figure to go in the top 15 could help the Vikings get a premium offensive lineman at a spot where he might not otherwise be available.
Sewell and/or Slater also opted out of the 2020 season, which might make them harder to evaluate and cause them to fall to the Vikings.
Might the Vikings get creative and try to recoup a premium pick by trading down?
"Rick Spielman always does a really good job drafting and moving around. I could see them moving around a little bit and taking advantage of a team trying to move up, especially if a team like New England or Chicago wanted to move up for a quarterback," McShay said. "But ultimately I think offensive line is probably the safest spot for them there. But if it's not offensive line I would go edge defender."