Minnesota Vikings Needs: Pre-Draft


Austin Belisle
What positions must the Minnesota Vikings address to take that final step to a Super Bowl title? | Photo Credit: Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings enter NFL Draft season with very few glaring holes on the roster. General manager Rick Spielman addressed the team's biggest need — offensive line — through free agency, and added other pieces to shore up areas of concern. When the Vikings select 23rd-overall in the first round, they'll have plenty of intriguing options, from wide receivers to defensive tackles. But like any team, there are positions that can improve, even if those improvements are minimal.

 

Wide Receiver

Mike Wallace ended his rocky affair with the Vikings on bad terms, leaving Minnesota with a giant question mark at wide receiver. Behind him are a handful of speedy targets, ranging from second-year breakout candidate Stefon Diggs to veteran slot receiver Jarius Wright. Of the group, one which includes Cordarrelle Patterson and journeyman Charles Johnson, none can lay claim to the coveted position atop the depth chart.

Enter this year's crop of wide receiver prospects. The two names that make the most sense for the Vikings are Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson, wide receivers with first-round, superstar potential. To many, Doctson and Treadwell are evenly-ranked, though fit will surely make a difference when Spielman makes his "On the Clock" decision. Doctson appears to be the favorite of the two, as he's long been connected to Minnesota. Look no further than his Pro Day, where head coach Mike Zimmer participated in hands-on drills with the Horned Frogs star. His size (6'2", 202 pounds) and superb leaping ability would give the Vikings the red zone target and 50/50 specialist they've been missing for so many years.

If either Doctson or Treadwell are off the board before the Vikings can select, look for other names to crop up. Ohio State's Michael Thomas is the first to come to mind, and many other receivers aren't currently deserving of first-round consideration. Let's say the Vikings don't land a wide receiver in the first round; where do they go? That brings us to the next position of need!

 

Strong Safety

Harrison Smith is the do-it-all safety that Mike Zimmer covets. Unfortunately, Smith can't man both safety positions, and it's imperative to the defense's success that Minnesota add another safety through the draft. Spielman did re-sign veteran Andrew Sendejo in free agency, but Sendejo hasn't shown he can take control at strong safety. And Michael Griffin, a veteran free agent signing, will likely get the nod, though no one truly knows if he's capable of surviving under Zimmer's tough tutelage. 

An intriguing prospect is Ohio State's Vonn Bell, a safety with the collegiate experience to transition easily to the speed and intensity of the NFL. He's a cerebral player who understands coverages, responsibilities, and offensive adjustments. But he's also an extremely raw tackler who struggles in run support, a hallmark of Zimmer's desired versatility in his safeties. Like Smith, Bell can play in the box, serve as a single-high safety, and rotate in and out of multiple positions on the field. 

Other potential targets — those of the second or third-round variety — include Florida's Keanu Neal, West Virginia's Karl Joseph, Boise State's Darian Thompson, and Clemson's Jayron Kearse. Whoever Minnesota decides to target, it needs to be a player who can handle the responsibilities of both a strong and free safety, one who gives the front-seven more freedom when rushing the passer or attacking with blitzes and stunts.

Follow Austin Belisle on Twitter at @austincbelisle!





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Man, if the Vikes can have another solid draft, they could be in the SB.

Defense should be top 5 and the offense will be decent. I think Doctson will be the pick. Hopefully he'll be a stud

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I would like to see Minnesota get a running back to prepare for life after Adrian Peterson.  I believe this team is headed in the right direction to contend against Green Bay for the NFC North Division Kings, but the team needs to add a few more pieces at the WR, OL, and SS positions to really fortify themselves against the Packers and Bears.

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I agree with you Rob, it is time for them to start thinking about their future at RB, not with a couple of guys to plug in but a true top tier RB.

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McKinnon isn't a bad choice to replace AP. He won't be great, but still good.

Offensive line will be much better with Alex Boone and Andre Smith signing. Can't wait for the season

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