Draft analyst and former Minnesota Vikings safety Corey Chavous said last week it would be “grand larceny” if the Vikings were able to take Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw with the No. 14 pick in the NFL draft. Well, on Thursday night they got him at No. 23.
The Vikings traded down nine spots with the New York Jets and picked up two additional third-round picks. And they still got a player they had coveted in Darrisaw, who has the potential to move into Minnesota’s starting lineup as a rookie at left tackle.
“If we were considering a guy strongly at 14 and we were still able to get him where we got him, that was a great night for us,’’ said Vikings general Rick Spielman.
Head coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings did “a lot of homework” on Darrisaw but Spielman said the first time he spoke to Darrisaw was to tell him Thursday night he had been drafted.
“I had one Zoom meeting with the Vikings with the O-line coach,’’ Darrisaw said. “It definitely was surprising… But I knew this could be a possible situation that I could be put into.’’
The 6-foot-5, 322-pound Darrisaw was a three-year starter for Hokies. The Vikings are looking at him to hopefully be their starting left tackle after they released Riley Reiff last month in a salary-related move.
“He’ll be at left tackle but he’s got to come in and compete and win the job just like everybody else,’’ Zimmer said. “So we’ll be able to keep (Brian) O’Neill at right (tackle) and go from there.’’
If Darrisaw is as advertised, the Vikings also are expected to keep Ezra Cleveland at right guard. He had been considered a possible candidate to replace Reiff.
“I definitely think I have what it takes,’’ Darrisaw said of taking over on the left side. “No matter what the situation I’m put in, I feel like I’m going to come out on top.’’
The Vikings traded the No. 14 pick in the first round and the No. 143 pick in the fourth round to the Jets. They got back the No. 23 pick in the first round, the No. 66 selection in the third round and the No. 86 pick in the third.
With the No. 14 pick, the Jets selected guard Alijah Vera-Tucker of USC.
The Vikings still don’t have a second-round pick but they have four third-round selections for Friday night, including No. 66, which is the second one in the third. The Vikings already had the No. 78 and 90 selections in the third round.
“We have more than enough ammunition to move up into second round,’’ Spielman said.
As for the first round, Darrisaw was elated to hear his name called.
“This is definitely a dream come true, just growing up as a kid, just wanting to be in the moment,’’ Darrisaw said. “I couldn’t be happier. This is a surreal moment, for sure. I’m just so grateful to be a Minnesota Viking. I can’t wait to get to work with all my teammates and the coaches.’’
Spielman said the Vikings made calls to try to move up in the draft but he wouldn’t give any details. The two top tackles in the draft were gone by No. 14, with Oregon’s Penei Sewell going No. 7 to Detroit and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater No. 13 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“To be honest with you, we were a little tight in the draft room,’’ Spielman said of making the trade and hoping that Darrisaw would still be available at No. 23.
Spielman said the Vikings did try to trade up from No. 23, but couldn’t find a deal. Zimmer said the Vikings had some other players they liked at No. 23 if Darrisaw had not been available but didn’t name them.
“We’re excited to get Christian here,’’ Zimmer said. “He’s a big, athletic left tackle. He moves really well in the zone-blocking scheme, he has good power. We felt we needed to not just get athletic but we needed some more size on the offensive line. He does a nice job with protection.’’
Spielman said Darrisaw had sports hernia surgery in January but that all the medical reports were good, the final ones coming in two hours before the draft.
Darrisaw became the first tackle taken by the Vikings in the first round since Matt Kalil went No. 4 in 2012.