If the Minnesota Vikings were to go after free agents leading up to training camp on July 28, what positions would the franchise pursue?
That’s the question team reporter Eric Smith answered on the team’s Monday Morning Mailbag segment. Smith’s reply aligned with the Vikings’ draft in April: reinforce both lines, build more depth in the secondary and find more weapons for Kirk Cousins.
General Manager Rick Speilman selected 13 picks of his 15-man draft class at those position groups, and until the team’s future stars emerge, those holes in the lineup need to be addressed now as a team is built to contend over the next few years.
And while a payday could be on the horizon for Dalvin Cook, the organization could maneuver some funds around to introduce a few veterans when training camp arrives.
Here’s Smith’s response:
“Adding to the roster could be an option as we get closer to camp, but I could also see the team keeping the roster at 87 players for now and waiting a bit to add more players. Perhaps they wait a week or so and see how early camp battles shake out before adding depth?
But at this point, the areas I’d possibly look to address would be along both the offensive and defensive lines, at cornerback and safety, and also wide receiver.
While I covered Smith and Harris above, there are no players with NFL experience behind them currently on the roster. And teams are always looking for depth in the trenches.”
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Safety and Offensive Line Among Biggest Concerns
Surprisingly, the position where the Vikings boast some of the NFL’s best players happens to also be their biggest weakness.
Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith make up the best safety tandem in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, but beyond the duo is next to nothing.
Rookies Josh Metellus (6th round), Brian Cole (7th round) and Myles Dorn (undrafted) make up the rest of the safety corps. If either Harris or Harrison Smith goes down, there’s zero NFL experience compounded with a virtual offseason, and no rookie OTAs working against their replacements.
Meanwhile, nine of the 16 Vikings offensive lineman currently rostered are either first or second-year players. Spielman told the Star Tribune there’s “wide open” competition at both guards spots.
While the Vikings did part ways with longtime edge rusher Everson Griffen and defensive tackle Linval Joseph, the offseason signing of former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce and the emergence of pass rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo should buoy the Vikings defensive front.
Eric Smith Predicts Cornerbacks to Come on Late in the Season
Cornerback was the biggest concern in the offseason after the Vikings released Xavier Rhodes, Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes after the trio played a collective 233 career games with the Vikings.
While Spielman put his money on the table by spending first- and third-round picks on rookie cornerbacks Jeff Gladney (TCU) and Cam Dantzler (Mississippi State), respectively, the truncated offseason is sure to have impacted their development in a dire time for the Vikings at the position.
Team reporter Eric Smith was asked for his opinion on if the secondary will improve this season, which he answered pragmatically.
“To answer your question, how about this plausible scenario? The Vikings secondary starts off slow in 2020 but improves throughout the season to finish about the same as 2019. But then the potential is there in the coming years for a top-tier unit, similar to what the Vikings had in 2017,” he said.
Third-year cornerback Mike Hughes is the only secured starter in the Vikings secondary, as he has started in five games and played in 20 over the past two seasons.
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