With some NFL minicamps starting up this week and others – including the Vikings – kicking off next, it seems the 2021 season is just around the corner.
Which questions are still unanswered for each of the 32 teams?
CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan tackled this topic, opining the "biggest remaining offseason priority" for each squad. For Minnesota, he pointed to depth as the team's top concern. Sullivan wrote:
While tight end Irv Smith may take on a bigger role in the pass-catching game, the Vikings still could use a No. 3 receiver to join Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. There are a couple of veterans still available on the free-agent market to fill that role like Golden Tate or Danny Amendola. Both would be fine additions in that spot. Meanwhile, the pass-rushing unit could also use some sorting out opposite of Danielle Hunter, who is returning from a season-ending neck injury. Do they roll with the combination of guys they currently have on the roster, or do they make a Yannick Ngakoue-type splash late in the summer like they did a year ago? Solidifying those spots should be a point of emphasis.
View photos of the Vikings organized team activity on June 8 at the TCO Performance Center.
Will the Vikings make any more roster moves between now and September, or will they focus on position battles during training camp later this summer? Time will tell.
It's worth also looking at Sullivan's thoughts about the Vikings NFC North rivals. He argued that the Bears biggest priority this offseason should be signing wide receiver Allen Robinson II to an extension, and the Lions should sign another skill position player.
It's a new era in Detroit as the coaching staff saw an overhaul. Jared Goff is the new quarterback after Matthew Stafford was traded to [the Rams]. While the Lions are likely still building toward what they hope are more fruitful seasons down the line, they'll still look to compete in 2021, and giving Goff another weapon to work with would be a welcome sight. The team does have Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams as the top two receiver options, but neither is striking a ton of fear into opposing secondaries. They also have T.J. Hockenson at tight end and a stable of backs that includes D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, but adding one more dynamic piece may do this unit a world of good. While I would lean more toward a receiver, the team has shown interest in free-agent running back Todd Gurley II.
And last but not least, of course, all questions in Green Bay revolve around quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Sullivan called Rodgers' future with the Packers "the most obvious priority on this list."
The Packers need to figure out a resolution to this saga surrounding Aaron Rodgers. The reigning NFL MVP seems pretty dug in that he wants out of Green Bay. The club did draft Jordan Love in the first round in 2020, but it doesn't seem like their top option is to just let Rodgers exit and ride with the kid. They want Rodgers back, but he doesn't want to return. Something needs to give.
Vikings linebackers room ranked in NFL's top 10 by PFF
After missing Anthony Barr for all but the first one-and-a-half games last season, and in the wake of Eric Kendricks being sidelined for Minnesota's final five regular-season games, Minnesota is anticipating the return of both linebackers for 2021.
The Vikings did lose Eric Wilson to free agency when he signed with the Eagles, but their linebackers group remains a strong one.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently ranked all 32 teams’ linebackers and slated the Vikings as the league's ninth best. PFF's Sam Monson wrote:
Eric Kendricks has the best PFF coverage grade of any linebacker in the NFL since the start of the 2019 season (91.7), as well as the most forced incompletions (17) and the highest forced incompletion rate (14.9%). He is one of the best coverage linebackers in the game, and if the Vikings can coax the best play out of any of Anthony Barr, Nick Vigil or rookie Chazz Surratt alongside him, they will really be cooking.
Topping the list at Nos. 1 and 2 were the 49ers and Seahawks, respectively, both of whom the Vikings will face this season.
The 49ers are one of the few teams to have multiple players featured in PFF's ranking of the top 32 linebackers entering 2021, and that makes them a very difficult group to top as a unit. Fred Warner wasn't the top-ranked linebacker, but he has out-graded Bobby Wagner (who was) in coverage over the past two seasons and was the No. 1-graded linebacker (88.6 overall) in the league last season. Dre Greenlaw is a solid player but isn't coming off his best year alongside Warner.
Minnesota will host Seattle during Week 3 for its home opener at U.S. Bank Stadium.
If the Seahawks still had K.J. Wright, they would comfortably field the NFL's best linebackers unit, but with Wright still a free agent, this unit is carried by Bobby Wagner. With the team deteriorating around him, Wagner has been put in ever-tougher positions, but he still has a top-five overall PFF grade over the past two seasons. He recorded 20 total pressures, 53 defensive stops and seven pass breakups in 2020. Jordyn Brooks is a work in progress, but we saw flashes of what he's capable of as a rookie last year.
The other teams ranked above the Vikings were the Buccaneers, Broncos, Colts, Cowboys, Patriots and Texans.