The Vikings in 2016 hit some snags in the road, but experts seem to agree that with a few key roster pieces and a healthier 2017, they're still a team to be reckoned with.
Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall caught up with a number of media members while at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and they weighed in on Minnesota's offense and the direction it's headed under Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. Shurmur has assumed the role full time for 2017 after stepping into the position on an interim basis midseason in 2016.
"They have some pieces," NFL Media's Mike Silver told Wobschall. "Obviously Stefon Diggs has emerged, and we'll see what they do with the running back situation, but for me it all starts with the offensive line."
Minnesota used 12 different offensive linemen – and eight different starting combinations – last season due to a barrage of injuries, and experts across the board have said strengthening the front must be an immediate priority.
But while the Vikings have some areas to address, Silver is taking them seriously as a competitor in 2017.
"We're talking about a team that going into last season, not only me but people far smarter about football than I am – other head coaches, other GMs – were saying to me, 'This is a Super Bowl caliber team,' " Silver said. "And obviously, from the [Teddy] Bridgewater injury, it was one of those brutally star-crossed years, and that's unfortunate. Obviously you always have to get better and re-tool, but I hope they all keep in mind just how good of a team they had built."
Added Silver: "I think Pat Shurmur has an opportunity to take that offense to some new places."
CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora is interested to see how the offense shakes out after free agency – which opens on March 9 – and the NFL Draft.
La Canfora opined that the Vikings offense will be a group effort of multiple talents rather than having one "face of the franchise" on that side of the ball.
"I think where they are right now, you're probably looking at a collective – I don't know that there's going to be that one guy," said La Canfora, who emphasized the quiet consistency of quarterback Sam Bradford and performance of Diggs in year three.
Albert Breer of The MMQB also weighed in on the Vikings offense, echoing that in addition to offensive line, a lot will ride on Bradford and the continued development of the receiving corps. Breer said:
"Bringing [Adam] Thielen back – assuming they can get that done – and having Stefon Diggs for another year, and then we do you get out of [Laquon] Treadwell coming out of a bad rookie year?"
Breer expects Shurmur to build an offensive system that fits around Bradford, whom he coached both in St. Louis and in Philadelphia before the two reunited in Minnesota just eight days before the regular season kicked off last year.
"I think stylistically you're going to play to Sam's strengths, which in general he's been at his best when you spread the field and get the ball out of his hands quickly," Breer said. "So you've got the potential to be that team with the receivers there and with Sam there."