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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Ranking the Vikings’ draft needs

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings (and the rest of the NFL) are on hand in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. With the No. 30 pick in the first round, the Vikings will be looking for a player who can make a difference in 2018. Which positions will they be most focused on? Let’s have a look…


The Vikings saw a massive improvement from 2016 to 2017 on the offensive line largely because they signed tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, but that won’t preclude them from looking at top tackle prospects. Detroit moved Reiff to right tackle in favor of Taylor Decker – he could see the same fate in Minnesota if the Vikings believe they can find a long-term left tackle in the draft. There appears to be a real possibility that Mike Remmers is playing guard next season after his strong Week 17 performance at right guard. The Vikings could draft a starting right tackle and slide Remmers to guard for 2018.

Tackle and guard are equal needs, but the positional value of tackle pushing it to the top of the list.


The guard class appears to be terrific. With Joe Berger likely to retire, the Vikings could draft a plug-and-play guard in the first and feel like they are in good shape on the offensive line heading into 2018. Even if Remmers is moved to guard, there is a chance the Vikings would look to bring a rookie into the mix to compete with Nick Easton or eventually become the full-time starter on the right side.

Defensive tackle

Tom Johnson took on a bigger role in 2017 replacing the spot left by Sharrif Floyd’s injury. The veteran proved that he could stuff the run and add pressure in the passing game that made him valuable. But Johnson is a free agent and is 33 years old. Even if the Vikings bring him back, they will need another player at three-technique with Shamar Stephen set to hit the market. Mike Zimmer prefers to have a player with pass rushing skill alongside Linval Joseph. If there is a player who fits the profile at No. 30, the Vikings will have to give it a great deal of consideration.

Tight end

Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan were very effective last season. Pat Shurmur used Rudolph to his strengths, especially in the red zone and Morgan ranked as one of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends. But the Eagles showed us that you can never have too many players who are mismatches for defenses. The Vikings drafted MyCole Pruitt in 2015 and Bucky Hodges in 2017, both in the late rounds, and neither worked out. Adding an athletic tight end to the mix and utilizing all three players’ strengths could make the Vikings’ offense even more dynamic. It might also offer a succession plan if the team eventually wants to move on from their veteran tight end.


Andrew Sendejo had a terrific season, so this isn’t an indictment on his play. He’s 30 years old and the Vikings could look into have more flexibility and depth in their defensive secondary. Harrison Smith routinely moves up into the box in a linebacker position, but on third downs the Vikings still use two linebackers. They could tweak that by having a versatile young safety. Drafting a safety could also provide the Vikings with more depth. Anthony Harris played well in limited relief time of Sendejo, but if either Smith or Sendejo were hurt for a chunk of games, it might be a tough assignment for Harris or Jayron Kearse.


GM Rick Spielman has said in that past that Zimmer believes teams can never have enough cornerbacks. With uncertainty at the slot corner position and Trae Waynes’ future potentially up in the air (the Vikings will have to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option), there is reason to look at corners. Even if Terence Newman is coming back for another swing, the Vikings haven’t locked down the nickel corner spot entirely. Mackensie Alexander showed progress this season, but did not do enough to make himself the locked-in starter. Also, this year’s version of depth was Tramaine Brock, who barely saw the field. A solid draft pick could improve that depth.

Defensive end

It’s hard to ignore that the Eagles drafted a pass rusher last year in the first round despite already having a solid defensive line. They used a rotation of players that included Brandon Graham, Chris Long and rookie Derek Barnett. The Vikings played Everson Griffen nearly every snap in 2017 and gave Danielle Hunter a huge workload as well. Unless they believe Stephen Weatherly, Tashawn Bower or Ifeadi Odenigbo is ready to become a rotational rusher, the Vikings could select a role player in the draft.

Wide receiver

There’s no question Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are top-notch wide receivers, but the Vikings’ vision for the rest of the group is unclear. Jarius Wright played well in every situation, yet he still didn’t receive a lion’s share of the No. 3 receiver snaps. Laquon Treadwell took steps forward, but not likely enough to lock him into that spot. It would be surprising if Michael Floyd returned. Stacy Coley and Cayleb Jones both have potential. Another viable weapon would make life as a Vikings QB (whoever may be playing there) even better.


It appears the Vikings will fill their quarterback opening in the free agent market, whether that’s Kirk Cousins or Teddy Bridgewater or Quarterback X, so the QB spot isn’t at the top of the list of needs. There is, however, a situation where they could select a QB in the first: If Lamar Jackson falls. Outside of the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner being available, it’s unlikely the Vikings would consider a QB early on. They could draft a signal caller in the later rounds to compete for the backup spot with Kyle Sloter.

Running back

This position might be determined by whether the Vikings want to stick with Latavius Murray as Dalvin Cook’s backup. Murray will be making too much money to be a backup, but with Cook coming off surgery, it’s hard to go into a season with him as the only proven running back. With Jerick McKinnon likely to leave in free agency, the Vikings could look for a No. 3, receiving back in the middle rounds.


Assuming the Vikings want to keep Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr long term, there isn’t much reason to draft a linebacker outside of adding some depth to the group. Emmanuel Lamur will likely leave in free agency, opening up a spot for a backup who is strong in coverage.


Pat Elflein looked like a franchise player in Year 1. There’s no reason to consider a pure center.

The post Ranking the Vikings’ draft needs appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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