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2021 NFL mock draft: Minnesota Vikings select Kwity Paye

A local prospects heads west to Minnesota.

Indiana v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings took a serious step back last year, and now many are wondering what the future of this franchise holds. A 7-9 disaster isn’t exactly a sinking ship, but Minnesota’s once-feared defense looked strangely beatable last season, and patience appears to be running thin with Kirk Cousins’ fully-guaranteed contract.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, they’ve been up against the cap for the past couple of years, and it’s finally starting to catch up with them. The good news for the Vikings is that they have a ton of draft picks to try and make up for some offseason losses. They currently have 10 picks, including seven in the first four rounds.

Acting as general manager for the Vikings in our Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft is commenter Col.Aureliano. Here’s the board they were looking at prior to their pick.

POD Community Mock Draft picks so far:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota
  4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  5. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
  6. Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
  7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  8. Carolina Panthers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
  9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
  10. Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
  11. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
  12. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama
  13. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

With the 14th pick in the Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have selected Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye.

Here is Col.Aureliano with the explanation.

As GM for Minnesota, the “smart” move would be to bolster the offensive line. The cutting of Riley Reiff this offseason left a pretty gaping hole. I knew Penei Sewel and Rashawn Slater would be gone before pick 14, but I would have been comfortable with Christian Darrisaw here. With the Chargers beating me to it, that left me looking at Alijah Vera-Tucker. However, since it is uncertain if he projects as guard or tackle, and we drafted Ezra Cleveland to play that role just last year, I passed.

I did take a long hard look at Samuel Cosmi as well, and his athleticism and upside are very intriguing. In the end, I just wasn’t as sold on him. I decided I could package some of our remaining 10 picks to move back into the second round and address the line.

By not feeling pressured to have to make a move with the offensive line, I instead decided to work towards making our defense elite. I was hopeful to have Micah Parsons slip down—imagine a linebacker group of Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and Parsons... woof. Since that didn’t happen, I instead focused on having my pick of any DE in the draft. For me, that meant either Kwity Paye or Jaelan Phillips.

I love Phillips and think he will be great, and I’m not as concerned with the concussion issue as some are. However, Kwity Paye is just too good here. First and foremost, I could bring Kent Lee Platte in on the correlation between elite athleticism and production from a DE, but we’ve all heard that before. Knowing that, with Paye, we are getting an elite athlete at DE (RAS of 9.54). He has played literally every spot on the DL, which didn’t help his stat line but demonstrated an ability to work against a multitude of game situations. This breadth of experience is a plus in my book. Also, he has the skills to drop off into coverage which will allow Anthony Barr to be even more dangerous.

The biggest knock is that his experience as a starter is a bit small. I view this as a huge plus though. Paye has not come close to reaching his ceiling. With more coaching, he can unlock even greater possibilities. I’ll just finish with the stat that Paye’s pass rush win rate his last year in college is basically the same as Chase Young and the Bosa brothers. He’s not the lock those three were, but he has the tools and he can help make our front seven something special.

Erik Schlitt’s thoughts:

For the last few picks, I’ve been suggesting Paye was an option for the NFC East teams, but they went in different directions, and now he lands in the NFC North... great.

Paye is the smart choice here, and well worth the 14th pick, but I agree with Col.Aureliano that offensive line should get a lot of consideration. Personally, I think Cleveland is capable of shifting from right guard back outside to tackle, and I believe he has the athleticism to play on the left side. If that’s the plan, Vera-Tucker is another strong option and grades out about at the same level as Paye—they’re next to each other on my board.

So with two players ranked similarly, it’s really a pick ‘em for the GM, and opting to address the EDGE here and then attack the offensive line on Day 2 is a fine strategy.

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