2020 NFL Mock Draft: Early Minnesota Vikings’ three-round predictions

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /

829. . Offensive Tackle. Crimson Tide . Alex Leatherwood. 2. player

Despite the Minnesota offense’s success in 2019, the offensive line is still a serious sore spot. More specifically, it’s time for the Vikings to look at replacement options on the left side — Riley Reiff isn’t the long-term answer, and Pat Elflein has been the weakest link of the bunch.

When considering potential options here, I wanted to find someone who could step into either spot and shine as a rookie. While doing so with a second-round pick isn’t easy, I believe I found the right target with Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood. Some would argue that he will come off the board in the first round, but I’m not entirely convinced of that just yet.

Why? Because Leatherwood is still raw, and it’s shown at times in 2019. While most of his work has been excellent, there have been a couple of games during which he’s been beaten heartily by superior, more experienced defensive ends. With all of that said, the upside is absolutely there — especially if he’s still on the board on Day 2.

Leatherwood has the athleticism and experience with zone blocking to take over for Reiff on the left side, either now or in the not-too-distant future. Alternatively, he could easily push Elflein for the starting left guard spot while he learns and grows, with the long-term goal being to move him to the blindside spot once Reiff’s contract is up in 2022.

Either way, the Vikings need to keep improving their front five. Elflein has been a major liability and penalty magnet in 2019, which could open the door for Leatherwood to steal a starting job sooner rather than later.