ESPN mock draft has Vikings strengthening defense

ESPN’s Jordan Reid put out the mid-season edition of his mock draft today, and there were some surprises that directly affected the Minnesota Vikings.

The first, and most important, aspect of this mock draft was the Vikings forgoing the quarterback position to bolster the defense. Reid has Minnesota taking edge rusher Laiatu Latu out of UCLA.

The Vikings haven’t drafted an edge rusher in the first round since 2005, when they selected Erasmus James at No. 18. And outside of Danielle Hunter — who’s in the final year of his deal and might even be traded before the Oct. 31 deadline — Minnesota can’t generate any type of pass-rush presence off the edge.

One consistent draft strategy theme we’ve seen from GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is picking explosive players on defense, and that’s Latu. His 22.3% pressure percentage is the second-best mark in the FBS. I am extremely high on Latu, as he’s the No. 13 player on my board. But medicals will be a major part of his pre-draft evaluation since he medically retired from football after neck injuries at Washington before getting clearance to return in 2022.

Latu would be a great pick that could make the possibility of life without Danielle Hunter an easier pill to swallow. The hope is that Latu would learn alongside the three-time pro bowler Hunter, but that is not a guarantee.

Another interesting part of Reid’s mock draft is where the quarterbacks landed, or should I say, did not land.

Reid had both Caleb Williams and Drake Maye scooped up in the first three selections, however, no other quarterback was picked in the rest of the mock draft.

That raises the question of why.

This is one of the more loaded quarterback classes and yet only the two biggest names were chosen.

Have we overrated this upcoming quarterback class? Is the discrepancy between Williams/Maye and everyone else enough to have QB3 last to day two? Do guys like J.J. McCarthy and Cam Ward go back to school?

An interesting nugget that could give Minnesota the chance to have their cake with a potential game-changing edge rusher, and eat it too with a potential franchise guy fall in their lap on day two.

Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire