NFC North Roundup – Minnesota Vikings

Check out other NFC North teams:

Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears

2016 Season Summary

 

The Vikings season was a tale of two teams. Through 5 games they went 5-0, looked to have the best defense in the NFL, were thought to be the favorites for NFC North champs, and some wondered if there was anyone that could stop them from taking their first ever Lombardi Trophy.

In the end, however, despite the respect we give to defenses and their ability to help a team win, turns out you at least need some ability to move the football down the field in order to win football games. The Vikings didn’t have that ability.

In the end the team went 8-8. Not only was their offense a disgrace but their defense took their foot off the gas a little. Although still an amazing defense, you won’t find them at the top of anything. Best stat I could find, they were 3rd in yards per game.

Offseason

 

The Vikings look a lot more like the Packers than the Bears or Lions in terms of their acquisitions. So far they’ve signed 4 players and have seen 8 players walk.

Including what they are expected to pay draft picks this year, the Vikings have around $10M in cap space to spend according to Spotrac.

Signings so far

Datone Jones, DE, Packers

A man that was probably always better suited as a 4-3 defensive end, Datone Jones joins a long list of Packers to sign with our division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.

Jones makes a good amount of sense for a few reasons.

First, although defensive end isn’t a massive need, depth is. Behind Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter, you’ll find a pile of names that graded out horribly. Jones, while not seen as an elite player, is a buffer between the two extremes.

Second, there is every reason to believe, despite his mediocre play with the Packers, that he will be a much better performer in Minnesota. Being able to play a position that is much more natural, on a defense that is one of the best, coupled with Jones’ attributes and abilities that made him a number 1 pick in the first place, it’s not hard to imagine that he could quickly become a great player for the Vikings.

Riley Reiff, OT, Lions

 

The offensive line for the Vikings possibly the biggest liability. Althought Joe Berger at guard is quite good, the center and tackle position are a nightmare.

The addition of Reiff makes sense in so far as he is a player that can fill a position of need.

Should we worry about it? No. Although he immediately becomes a starter, Reiff is not a very good lineman. He’s a subpar pass blocker and a horrible run blocker. Sorry Latavious.

Mike Remmers, OT, Panthers

If I’m wrong about the abilities of the two tackles, the Vikings are instantly a very scary football team.

That said, Remmers is not good. Unlike Reiff, I’m not 100% sure Remmers starts on day 1. The reason I’m not sure is due to the fact that Remmers and Sirles are basically the same player. Both are pretty decent run blockers and horrific pass blockers.

I suppose it’s possible Remmers plays right tackle and Sirles slides to right guard. If so, the Vikings will have 1 side they can run to and with moderate success. Other than that, the line is useless.

Let’s all hope it stays that way.

 

 

 

Unsigned

The current unsigned players are as follows:

Adrian Peterson, RB

 

This is pretty simple. I like A.P.  Until I watch him play terribly, I refuse to believe he is done terrorizing the league. He hasn’t been good in Minnesota but there is no way we can put the blame on him.

Be that as it may, the Vikings won’t be bringing him back.

Roster Breakdown

I’ve already touched on quite a few players and positions but let’s take a closer look.

Quarterback

Despite all the mocking, Bradford played pretty well in 2016. He played one of the best quarterback performances I’ve ever seen against the Packers and was ranked 12th by PFF.

The unfortunate part of all this is the fact that the key piece seems to be in place on the offense. If the Vikings can get a few other pieces squared away, they can be a dominant team for many years to come.

Wide Receiver

Another position you would expect to be easily picked apart, the Vikings are also doing pretty well at WR.  PFF has Diggs and Thielen ranked almost the same as the Packers top to receivers, Nelson and Cobb.

Unlike the Packers, however, there is 0 depth behind those two. WR is certainly a need for the Vikings.

Running Back

 

I already talked about Murray and everyone knows the situation behind him. We’ve been watching the Vikings backups play quite a bit the last few years.

Still the running back situation entirely depends on the offensive line play. If they don’t fix it, the backs will continue to struggle. If they do, the Vikings will at least have a moderately good running attack to compliment Bradford and the passing attack.

Tight End

 

Not a massive need, tight end is certainly a position that could use some work. We’ve been hearing for years about the potential of Kyle Rudolph but he’s never really become the kind of player the Vikings hoped for.

That said, if they did manage to find a TE they would have a pretty scary offense to go along with that top ranked defense.

Again, the ceiling is limited by how long Bradford can stay vertical.

Offensive Line

 

I feel like every paragraph has hit on offensive line so, in summary, the Vikings going 8-8 or being Super Bowl contenders hinges on finding two tackles and a center…. possibly a guard too.

It’s just an opinion but I find it hard to refute.

Defensive Interior

The D line isn’t as good as the Packers but it’s still very good. Linval Joseph is a monster in the middle and Tom Johnson does pretty well next to him. The issue is the complete lack of depth.

Considering the fact that the big men need to be rotated quite a bit, having 2 defensive linemen isn’t a great situation.

Sharrif Floyd is the 1 wild card. He was a first round pick in 2013 who has shown flashes but has mostly underwhelmed since his 2013 selection. He missed almost all of 2016 with a knee injury.

For Comparison, Mike Daniels is better than anyone the Vikings have in the middle as well as 4 guys that can play behind him. The Vikings have 1 guy that is on Daniels level and maybe 2 that can play next to him.

Bottom line, they need some depth. If an offense can catch Linval on the sideline, as it stands, they may be able to run it down the vikings throat with ease.

Edge Defenders

Another position I’ve touched on, the Vikings are in a pretty good position here. They potentially have 3 good defensive ends already going into 2017 with Everson Griffin, Danielle Hunter, and Datone Jones.

If, on the other hand, Jones doesn’t pan out, there are some depth issues here.

Linebacker

Another guy I really wanted the Packers to snag in the draft, Eric Kendricks is a solid middle linebacker. The issue is the guys next to him. In base defense, the Vikings need to be able to put 3 linebackers on the field. As it stands, that’s two too many.

Linebacker is certainly a need for this team.

Cornerback

 

One of the biggest surprises to me this offseason was to discover the Vikings had a 38 year old guy on their team playing corner ranked as a top ten corner in the NFL.

Terrence Newman was my number one hope for offseason signings for the Packers. A guy you sign to a short term contract that is a freak of a corner that can coach up the young bucks, and one that no doubt could be signed cheap.

Unfortunately the Packers brass didn’t agree and the Vikings were able to retain him.

Behind him, are some pretty good options. Xavier Rhodes makes a great number two and Trae Waynes has done pretty well for himself in his 2 years with the team.

Safety

To round this out, yes, all four teams in the NFC North are pretty well set at the position. At least in their ability to put two on the field with confidence.

Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo are a fine pair. Unfortunately, much like the Packers, there is nobody behind them you really want to have to sub in.

Since safeties really don’t rotate in and out, injury is really the only risk here and could very well be why most teams have 2 good safeties and no depth.

2017 Draft

As it stands now, the Vikings will have 8 selections in the 2017 draft.

Round 2, No. 48

Round 3, No. 79

Round 3, No. 86 (from Miami)

Round 4, No. 121

Round 4, No. 129 (from Miami)

Round 5, No. 160

Round 6, No. 199

Round 7, No. 232

 

 

Unfortunately for the Vikings, the cost of attaining their quarterback was a first round draft pick. One that certainly would come in handy for a team that is a few good picks away from making a Super Bowl run.

That said, they do have 8 picks in 2017 which gives them plenty of ammo.

Looking Ahead

 

It’s hard to put my finger on the team as far as expectations. Overall I would say they are underrated offensively and overrated defensively. They are a few picks away from being great but a few injuries away from being 4th in the division.

It’s a very volatile team. Although I’m certainly afraid of their ceiling, I’m optimistic about their floor.