Sat, 19 Jun 2021

Lunchbreak: Vikings Hit 'Home Run' on OL with Darrisaw & Davis

Minnesota Vikings
08 May 2021, 21:37 GMT+10

Lindsey Young

NFL Draft power rankings? We love to see it.

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson ranked each team's moves in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he slated Minnesota at 15th overall.

The middle-of-the-pack ranking still produced high praise from Wilson, though, who named a "favorite pick," "best value" and "most surprising pick" for each team. For Minnesota, he tabbed Buckeyes guard Wyatt Davis as a third-round steal. Wilson wrote:

Ohio State's Wyatt Davis didn't play with the consistency many wanted to see in '20, but we all saw how dominant he could be the year before. He's great value here (we had him as a late second-rounder), and to come out of [Days 1-2] with both left tackle Christian Darrisaw and Davis feels like a home run.

As far as his favorite Vikings pick, Wilson pointed to Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and said he, "like the Vikings, had him as an early third-rounder."

Mond was a lot of fun to watch in 2020 and made huge strides during his senior season. He could end up being one of the best picks in this draft class if it all comes together.

Wilson was most surprised by Minnesota's selection of Iowa receiver/returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round, saying he had projected Smith-Marsette as an early seventh-round selection.

He only weighs 179 pounds, he sometimes had focus drops and he didn't break many tackles. But he also ran a 4.43 and can run by cornerbacks all day long, is an asset in the return game and he was underutilized at Iowa which complicated his draft evaluation. Clearly, the Vikings liked what they saw.

The Vikings were ranked third among the NFC North by Wilson, who put the Packers at No. 25 and the Lions and Bears at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.

College coaches weigh in on 'surprises, best fits & value picks' from NFL Draft

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg delved into an interesting project recently, speaking to college coaches about where their players were drafted - and by whom. He wrote:

The NFL draft elicits a range of strong opinions, but college coaches have a distinct viewpoint.

They have seen these players up close, both in games and studying them on film, often for multiple seasons. While their job is not to project how players will fare in the NFL, they can spot strengths and weaknesses, patterns in drafting and who works best with certain teams.

I spoke to a few college coaches before last week's draft and to more than 25 in the days after, including head coaches in every Power 5 conference and some top assistants, to identify surprises, best fits and value picks, trends, and how certain position groups could perform in the NFL.

Rittenberg's piece is an intriguing deep-dive, and you can read it in entirety here. But for now, we'll spotlight the Minnesota mentions.

Under "Day 2 surprises and best value picks," Rittenberg highlighted the Vikings third-round selections of Mond and Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II.

Coaches like the outlooks for both SEC quarterbacks drafted on Day 2: Florida's Kyle Trask (second round, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Texas A&M's Kellen Mond (third, Vikings).

[...]

Mond has time to develop behind Kirk Cousins after blossoming as a senior under [Aggies Head Coach] Jimbo Fisher and during the pre-draft process.

"He climbed up people's boards after the Senior Bowl," an SEC coach said. "He played his best ball at the right time. You may not hear from him early, but two years down the road, Kellen Mond's going to be a quality backup who at some point will get an opportunity to run a show."

Defensive linemen didn't dominate the top of this year's draft like in the past, but coaches cited several middle-rounds sleeper picks. Pitt's Patrick Jones II (third round, Vikings) and Rashad Weaver (fourth round, Titans) both jumped out.

Pro Football Hall of Fame launches behavioral health program

As part of our "Getting Open" series that focuses on mental health, we talked last month to Vikings Legend and Hall of Famer John Randle about his work with NFL Legends and emphasis on mental health support.

The topic isn't important only to Randle but to the Pro Football Hall of Fame overall. According to NFL.com, the Hall of Fame "announced Thursday the formation of Hall of Fame Behavioral Health, a program created to find comprehensive solutions through a network of mental and behavioral health services designed specifically for current and former athletes and their families."

Hall of Fame Behavioral Health's stated mission is "to make mental health and the treatment of issues surrounding athletes and those who care for them destigmatized, accessible and widespread."

Among the ambassadors supporting the program are Hall of Fame President/CEO David Baker, Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott, Brian Dawkins, Steve Atwater, Andre Reed and Tim Brown, and active players Adrian Peterson and Calais Campbell.

[...]

Hall of Fame Behavioral Health will offer an easy-to-use concierge call center and crisis line to match treatment and counseling services with a vetted and accredited premier network of 12 service providers across the country, from Baltimore to Tucson. The providers are trained to deal with such issues as post-career transition, identity, addiction, performance anxiety, mindfulness and the culture of sports.

Baker said the following in a statement:

"The Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been about protecting the most important part of the game of football: the players. With Hall of Fame Behavioral Health, our mission is to make mental and behavioral health services that meet the Hall of Fame's standards of excellence easily accessible and available not only to Hall of Famers but to every player of this game, the people who support them and the kids dreaming about one day playing in the League. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is committed to ending the stigma that surrounds asking for help and protecting our family of athletes for generations to come."

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