What is the Minnesota Vikings' Biggest Weakness?

Will Ragatz

What is the Vikings' biggest weakness?

That's a difficult question to answer. Heading into the 2020 season, the Vikings have a number of areas on their roster that could be considered weaknesses or concerns. You can also take a step back and look at things beyond just the roster construction, such as Dalvin Cook's holdout or the current lack of long-term commitments to head coach Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman.

Last week, SI NFL staff writer Conor Orr made his pick for the biggest weakness of every team in the league. For the Vikings, he went with edge rusher. With the losses of Everson Griffen and Stephen Weatherly this offseason and the fact that the Vikings didn't draft a DE until the fourth round, it's certainly a position with some uncertainty this year.

Here's what Orr had to say about the Vikings:

EDGE RUSHER: Surprise, surprise. Mike Zimmer invested in cornerback play atop the draft (TCU's Jeff Gladney 31st overall, Mississippi State's Cameron Dantzler 89th), continuing a rich history of replenishment at the position. It’s probably a wise investment. As more teams shift to spread-out offenses and get rid of the ball quicker, pass rushing does not become irrelevant, but possibly less relevant than cornerback play. That said, the Vikings have lost more than they gained this offseason (so far). Last season the Vikings finished 26th in pass rush win rate.

For the rest of the NFC North, Orr listed linebacker as the Packers' biggest weakness, tight end for the Bears, and defensive line for the Lions.

I get where he's coming from, but I have to disagree with this choice for the Vikings. It's hard for me to call edge rusher Minnesota's biggest weakness considering that Danielle Hunter might be the best player on the entire roster. Hunter is a freakish superstar and one of the most unstoppable edge rushers in the league. He's also still just 25 years old.

Griffen and Weatherly may be gone, but the Vikings may not experience a massive drop-off in production next season. Ifeadi Odenigbo racked up seven sacks in a rotational role in 2019, and he's set to step into Griffen's starting spot this year. Whether or not he'll continue to produce at a high level in a three-down role is a big question for the Vikings this year, but he gave fans plenty of reason to be optimistic with his performance last season.

The Vikings also have decent depth with free agent pickup Anthony Zettel and fourth-round rookie D.J. Wonnum. Lastly, I'll add that I'm not too concerned about the stat cited by Orr, Minnesota's 26th-ranked pass rush win rate (per ESPN). That number is a team stat and is weighed down by the fact that the Vikings' defensive tackles generated virtually zero pressure last year, so it's not a perfect metric when looking just at outside rushers.

Is edge rusher one of the Vikings' biggest strengths? Probably not. But is it their biggest weakness? I don't think so. Here are three roster areas that I would definitely rank as more pressing weaknesses/areas of concern heading into this season.

Offensive line

The Vikings' O-line has been a weakness for basically this entire decade, and that's still the case in 2020. Garrett Bradbury had a rough rookie season, there are question marks at both guard spots, and the left tackle job is in a state of transition from Riley Reiff to Ezra Cleveland. I ranked the Vikings' offensive line as the worst in the NFC North, and I'd argue that it's probably the team's biggest weakness right now.

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski ranked the "left side" of the Vikings' line as their biggest red flag heading into 2020.

Cornerback

There's a youth movement happening at cornerback in Minnesota, and while that could lead to great results down the line, the outlook for 2020 is dicey. Replacing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander with Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, and several rookies was a good long-term move, but it might result in some serious struggles this year. That's especially true considering Zimmer hasn't even gotten to work with Jeff Gladney or Cameron Dantzler on the field yet.

Wide receiver depth

The trade of Stefon Diggs was another necessary move in which the Vikings got a strong return, but it's not going to make the team better in 2020. Behind star No. 1 Adam Thielen, the Vikings will be relying on a 21-year-old rookie (Justin Jefferson) and a cheap free agent pickup (Tajae Sharpe). There's some upside in that room, but the depth behind Thielen is a weakness at this point.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1
ChiVike
ChiVike

DE the biggest weakness? That is ridiculous, honestly. First, as you said, you have one of the best young DEs in the NFL in Hunter. You then replace Griffen with Odenigbo, and the starters are at least equal to last year. You also have the prospect of Zimmer finally figuring out that Barr's best skill is rushing the passer, so Barr is like having a potential Ferrari pass rusher that we, bizarrely, choose not to use much in that role.

You then throw in that Patterson has consistently coached up DLs to make contributions, and I don't think pass rusher is even close to the Vikings' biggest weakness.

You need look no further than DT to find a weaker position group for the Vikings.

But if we were looking for the biggest weak link on the Vikings, it is clearly interior OL. Our current starters are Terrible Eflein, Young and Learning Bradbury, and Mystery Starter, TBD. How anyone could have looked at that threesome and not found it to be the Vikings' weakest link is crazy.

For the CBs, throw in the fact that we have zero proven starters and that Zimmer has never done a good job getting rookies to start and contribute right away, and I would say CB is a much bigger weakness heading into the season than DE.


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