General manager Rick Spielman deviated from his typical course on Friday night, both by staying put with the Vikings' stockpile of third-round picks, and by using his second pick in the 2021 NFL draft on a developmental quarterback.
The Vikings selected Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the third round with the 66th overall pick, jumping into the middle of a short run on mid-round passers. Mond was taken two picks after the Buccaneers selected Florida's Kyle Trask, and one pick before the Texans added Stanford quarterback Davis Mills.
While Spielman said he tried to move up into the second round, where their pick was shipped to Jacksonville last summer for Yannick Ngakoue, he was turned off by what a move would cost. Spielman elected to wait 33 picks on Friday before taking Mond.
"We did try to make a few trades," Spielman said, "but felt the asking price was too much. As it lowered down through the second, and saw the board still had a lot of good players we coveted, we decided to stay patient. So, as we got into the third round, we followed our board."
Mond (6-3, 211 pounds) was the first of four third-round picks by the Vikings, joining linebacker Chazz Surratt, guard Wyatt Davis, and defensive end Patrick Jones II.
Mond, an athletic, dual-threat passer, threw for 71 touchdowns and ran for another 22 scores in four seasons at Texas A&M. He steps into a quarterback room with starter Kirk Cousins, and backups Jake Browning and Nate Stanley, giving the Vikings their most intriguing developmental passer in a long time. Last year's No. 2, Sean Mannion, was not re-signed.
Cousins, who turns 33 in August, is currently under contract for two more seasons.Mond is the first mid-round quarterback drafted by the Vikings since 2008's fifth round. But it wasn't much of a surprise to Mond, who said he had a strong meeting with Vikings coordinator Klint Kubiak – also a Texas A&M graduate – during the draft process.
"They were one of the top teams just based on the relationship we had, and how the meeting went," Mond said Friday night. "I kind of had word they really like my game and how I approach the game mentally and physically. At that point, it was just playing the waiting game."
It was a long waiting game for the Vikings after taking tackle Christian Darrisaw during Thursday night's first round.
The Vikings watched an active trade market as six other teams made leaps within the first 20 picks of round 2. But the farthest second-round jump was just 13 slots, and the move cost the Bears a third-round pick.
Following Mond, the Vikings got defensive again. Spielman drafted Surratt, the former North Carolina linebacker, in the third round with the 78th overall pick.
Surratt (6-2, 229 pounds) was initially a Tar Heels quarterback, 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.
"It was a move I thought would lead me to this point," Surratt said of transitioning to linebacker. "A lot of hard work was put into it."
Surratt said he met with the Vikings multiple times during the draft process, including a chat with linebackers coach Adam Zimmer last week. He gives the Vikings another long-term option, a couple months after starter Anthony Barr renegotiated his contract to become a free agent in 2022. He'll join a linebacker corps with Barr, Eric Kendricks, and Troy Dye, among others.
Spielman turned back to the offensive line in the third round with Davis, the 86th overall pick. Davis (6-4, 315 pounds) is the second blocker taken within Minnesota's first four picks of the draft, and further beefs up the protection in front of Cousins.
"There was pretty much a directive from Zim going into scouting this fall of, 'Let's get bigger up front,'" said Jamaal Stephenson, the team's director of college scouting. "Wyatt Davis definitely fits that mold."
Davis was a five-star recruit out of St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif., where the Buckeyes recruited him away from programs like Alabama and Auburn. He started 24 games at right guard, says he can play "any position on the offensive line," and grew a reputation for being a powerful force up front.
"Just being nasty and a blue-collar kind of guy," Davis said.
He's got the pedigree as the grandson of Willie Davis, the Packers' Hall of Fame defensive end in the 1960s. Davis was also the second Buckeyes blocker drafted Friday behind new Packers center Josh Myers, who was taken by Green Bay in the second round.
The Vikings' fourth and final third-round pick finally addressed the pass rush, which will get some depth from Jones, the ex-Pittsburgh defensive end taken with the 90th overall pick.
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 former Pittsburgh team captain looks the part of a Vikings edge rusher – tall and athletic. He'll provide some help behind defensive ends Danielle Hunter, Stephen Weatherly, and D.J. Wonnum.