The Vikings are one of 18 NFL teams who did not make the playoffs this past season, as Minnesota finished 7-9 during the 2020 season.
Conor Orr of The MMQB has looked each team who missed the postseason and decided the Vikings aren’t far away from getting back on track on 2021.
Which brings us to the Vikings, who continued their streak of missing the playoffs every other year, which they have done consistently since 2015. They are all at once a formidable group with potential in the future and an underperforming group with perpetual questions about their ceiling at quarterback.
In fact, while Orr mentioned Minnesota's streak since Mike Zimmer's hire as head coach of making the postseason in odd years (2015, 2017 and 2019) and missing the postseason in even years (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020), he believes the Vikings will continue that trend next season.
Orr wondered aloud when the next time we'll realistically see the Vikings in the playoffs, and went with 2021.
With the expanded format, it wouldn't be surprising to see the NFC North consistently send two teams to the playoffs every year. There is no reason to think that the Vikings will sit out of the playoffs again, especially with so many reinforcements on the way.
Orr also said Minnesota's biggest bright spot was rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven scores. The 2020 first-round pick set the record for yards by a rookie in the Super Bowl era and the Vikings rookie record for receptions.
Orr noted that although the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs last offseason, they took an absolute star in the draft at No. 22 overall.
Diggs was one of the league's most productive wide receivers this year, however, the replacement Minnesota netted made some serious noise in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Justin Jefferson gives the Vikings Diggs-esque production without the immediate need for a new, cap-altering contract, although that certainly doesn't feel very far away right now. Nailing that pick shielded the franchise from some serious scrutiny.
Orr's full breakdown of the Vikings headed into the 2021 offseason can be found here.
Graff expects Gladney, Dantzler to be Vikings future at CB
With the 2020 season in the books, the focus will turn to the 2021 roster in the coming weeks and months.
Chad Graff of The Athletic recently put out his early 53-man roster projection for the 2021 Vikings, which includes some turnover at a handful of spots on offense and along the defensive line.
But one area where Graff believes the Vikings are fairly set is at cornerback, where he believes 2020 rookies Jeff Gladney (first-rounder) and Cameron Dantzler (third-rounder) will be asked to take a step forward in 2021.
Graff also opined that he expects 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes, who played in just four games in 2020 due to injuries, to be among the team's top options at cornerback.
It was a long year for the Vikings at this position where they started two rookies and had multiple injuries, including to Holton Hill (who was cut) and Mike Hughes. Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney will return as the presumptive starters with Gladney potentially in the slot and Hughes, a former first-round pick, on the outside. Harrison Hand can provide depth, but they need more. A free-agent signing is possible as is another early draft pick here.
Gladney started 15 games (and played in all 16). He played 958 snaps in 2020, the most of any Vikings cornerback.
Dantzler was second among cornerbacks with 601 snaps, as he played in 11 games with 10 starts. Hughes saw the field for 173 snaps in 2020.
Graff's early projection can be viewed here.