SI's MMQB Assesses Vikings Team Needs, Draft Targets
With the main rush of free agency in the rearview mirror and the NFL Draft less than a month away, Sports Illustrated's MMQB recently took a look at where each team stands. Andy Benoit went through the remaining needs for every team, and Gary Gramling presented a handful of realistic draft targets.
The Vikings, who have lost far more talent than they've added thus far, have no shortage of needs. On offense, it starts with wide receiver after the Stefon Diggs trade, says Benoit.
"In-house replacement options Olabisi Johnson and Chad Beebe can be serviceable contributors off the bench, but a veritable No. 2 target must be found. Otherwise, Adam Thielen will encounter every form of double-team coverage imaginable in 2020."
The Vikings have since added free agent Tajae Sharpe, but they still must target a receiver early on in the draft. Gramling has a few ideas for both the first and second round.
"Clemson’s Tee Higgins would give them a big catch radius target opposite Thielen, while LSU’s Justin Jefferson would provide a wily possession target who could move around the formation," Gramling writes. "But with such great depth at receiver, it might make more sense to wait until that 58th pick to address the need, when they could pick up a pro-ready option like USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. or Florida’s Van Jefferson."
Benoit says the other main offensive need is at guard. Gramling floats the idea of taking Michigan center Cesar Ruiz – "an ideal fit in their scheme" – at No. 25 and moving him to guard. We went into depth on that possibility at InsideTheVikings.
Defensively, Benoit identifies cornerback as the obvious need for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings going forward. Losing three starters – Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander – in one offseason will do that to a team.
"2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes can comfortably take one of the starting spots, and maybe—MAYBE—fellow third-year pro, undrafted man Holton Hill, can take the other," Benoit says. "Still, the Vikings would in the very least need a third guy, and probably a fourth, if not fifth, given Mike Zimmer’s penchant for rotating at this position. Hughes’s ability to play inside or outside at least gives Minnesota some flexibility in who they take."
Here's Gramling breakdown of potential corner targets for the Vikings in the draft:
"Utah’s Jaylon Johnson would be able to step in as an immediate starter and potential future shutdown corner, while TCU’s Jeff Gladney is undersized but ultra-competitive, likely able to play the boundary as well as the slot. Virginia’s Bryce Hall is also polished and can handle Mike Zimmer’s scheme, even if his lack of long speed is not ideal. If they wait, among the NFL-ready corners potentially available mid-Day 2 are slot guys Amik Robertson of Louisiana Tech, Auburn’s Javaris Davis and Josiah Scott of Michigan State."
Benoit also mentions defensive end as a need after the losses of Everson Griffen and Stephen Weatherly, but mentions that Ifeadi Odenigbo is ready for a larger role.
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