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Vikings move down to take Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Vikings were rewarded for their calculated gamble Thursday night, landing offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw after a nine-spot slide down the NFL draft board.

Now they’re banking on blocking for Kirk Cousins being a less risky proposition.

The Vikings took Darrisaw out of Virginia Tech with the 23rd overall selection on Thursday night, bolstering an uncertain offensive line after a familiar draft-night move to stockpile more picks.

Darrisaw, a late-blooming, long-armed athletic blocker at 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds, was a second-team All-American in 2020. He can fill a significant opening at left tackle after Riley Reiff was released for salary cap savings. He also checks a box for the Vikings by adding size to an entire mobile group but is sometimes outmanned by more extensive defensive lines.

“He’s got excellent strength. He’s a good kid. He’s a hard worker and athletic,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “I don’t know that there was a priority. It was found the guy who we thought would come in and fit the best.”

The Vikings had the No. 14 spot on the board, which would have been their highest in six years. They sent the pick to the New York Jets with one of their four choices in the fourth round (No. 143 overall) to settle at No. 23 – which initially came from Seattle in the deal for safety Jamal Adams – and add two third-round selections (No. 66 and No. 86). “We were a little tight in the draft room,” general manager Rick Spielman said.

Quipped Zimmer: “I told him, ‘Don’t answer the phones anymore.'”

After stocking up on defense in free agency, it was time to bolster the blocking in front of Cousins. After years of draft neglect on the offensive line, the Vikings have hustled to catch up recently by using a first- or second-round pick for their front in the last three offseasons. Guard/tackle Ezra Cleveland went 58th overall in 2020, center Garrett Bradbury was the 18th selection in 2019, and tackle Brian O’Neill was the No. 62 overall choice in 2018. Bradbury, tackle Matt Kalil (No. 4 overall in 2012), and tackle Bryant McKinnie (No. 7 in 2002) are the only offensive linemen the Vikings have taken in the first round in the last 25 drafts.

With Darrisaw’s arrival, O’Neill can stay at the correct tackle, and Cleveland can remain at the right guard. Darrisaw, a Maryland native who played three seasons for the Hokies, was the fourth offensive tackle taken this year.

“I’ve always been an underdog, and there have always been questions about me. But I know my heart and belief in myself and the confidence,” Darrisaw said. “I feel like I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.” The Vikings prepared scenarios for one of the consensus top-five quarterbacks falling to them. That’s precisely what happened with Alabama’s Mac Jones available, but with Cousins under contract for two more years at $66 million, such a move would only have been for the future.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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