Despite the few talented free agents that are still available, that phase of the offseason is pretty much over as far as the Minnesota Vikings are concerned. After signing many of their own free agents, they brought in players like Linval Joseph, Corey Wooten and Captain Munnerlyn to help bolster the defense. At this point the defensive line is pretty much set and so is most of the offense with a few exceptions. With the draft just over a month away, now is a good time to look at what still needs to be done.
Find the quarterback of the future…and the present
Duh! Obviously the quarterback position needs to be upgraded. Yes, they resigned Matt Cassel who is at least semi-competent, but the reality is that nothing has changed from last season. In this draft, Rick Spielman has to find a franchise quarterback, or else he will likely end up looking for a new job. The top three of Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel all have flaws but are potential franchise qb’s. Next you have the second tier of Derek Carr (ranked higher depending on who you talk to), Jimmy Garoppolo and AJ McCarron who all have potential but maybe not as high of a ceiling. Lastly there are the injury risks of Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray. After that there are many players with upside, but unless they draft two quarterbacks, those players won’t come into play. This may be the most important decision of the offseason and it is likely we will have an answer to this question after the first three rounds.
Improve at linebacker
As of now, the linebacker position is a mess. The only certainty is that Chad Greenway will start at one of the outside positions. Michael Mauti, Audi Cole and Jasper Brinkley will likely fight it out for middle linebacker. Right now, there is no clear-cut starter opposite of Greenway. Depending on who is available and when, you can count on the Vikings doing all they can to upgrade at linebacker.
Continue adding secondary help
Help may be on the way in the secondary, but after fielding the worst pass defense in the league, it never hurts to find more talent. Harrison Smith could become one of the best safeties in the league, but he has no one of worth to play next to him. At cornerback, just find talent and figure out where everyone plays later. I can see both positions being addressed during the early to mid rounds of the draft.
Decide who will start at left guard
Hooray!!! Charlie Johnson is back!!! Oh wait…no one really cares. At least the return of Johnson doesn’t necessarily mean he will be the starter. It sounds like Jeff Baca will be given the opportunity to win the job and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the team drafting a potential starter. There will be competition for the last remaining offensive line position and hopefully someone will step up and take it. With improved guard play, the line can return to being one of the strengths of the team.
Get a change-of-pace running back
Darren Sproles ended up in Philadelphia, but he would have been a perfect fit. With the best running back in the league and having seen flashes from Matt Asiata, the Vikings are in good shape. A pass-catching speedy back would be a nice complement to what we already have. With the league going away from every-down backs, there could be unique talent to be had later in the draft.
The Vikings have had a big overhaul this offseason from coaching to many new faces on defense. The work is not done, but there is positivity for what next season holds. The draft will only increase that excitement as the final pieces fall into place. The speculation will continue and we will finally get some answers come draft weekend.