The countdown is on, as we are now less than a month away from the start of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The league’s annual offseason showcase event kicks off April 25 in Nashville. The first round is Thursday. Rounds two and three will be on Friday the 26th. The draft concludes Saturday the 27th with the final four rounds.
The Vikings currently have the 18th overall pick in the first round, one of eight total selections at the disposal of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his staff.
With draft preparations about to intensify, what are Minnesota’s areas of need on its roster?
Dan Parr of NFL.com recently broke down each NFL team and the directions they could go in the draft, noting that the Vikings could be looking to beef up the trenches on both sides of the ball.
Left tackle Riley Reiff was the only Vikings' O-lineman with a top-80 grade last season, per PFF. The addition of Josh Kline helps on the interior, but they should still be looking to add at least one more starter up front. On the D-line, Sheldon Richardson was scooped up by the Browns, and Shamar Stephen returns to Minnesota to help replace him. This club could still use another disruptive presence up front. After addressing the trenches, GM Rick Spielman might want to look to the skill positions.
Parr wrote that offensive and defensive linemen should be the early priority for the Vikings, but then listed tight end, running back and wide receiver as other areas of need.
Parr’s line of thinking matches up with the latest edition of Mock Madness compiled by Vikings.com.
In Mock Madness 5.0, almost two dozen draft experts projected their first-round picks for the Vikings. Of the 21 analysts included, 15 predicted a lineman would be selected by Minnesota at pick No. 18, while the final six experts were evenly split between a tight end or a defensive lineman.
PFF predicts Barr signing as Vikings best move of offseason
Most of the free agency frenzy is over and done with, as the majority of big-name players have either landed with new teams or chose to remain with old teams.
Anthony Barr falls into the latter category, as the linebacker chose to remain with the Vikings — the team that drafted him ninth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Ben Cooper and Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus recently predicted a signing for each team that will be their best one of the offseason, and the duo said keeping Barr in Minnesota will pay off for the Vikings.
Cooper and Linsey wrote:
Two years ago, Barr was the Vikings’ lowest-graded player. Two years later, he’s their top-graded off-ball linebacker and a key cog in the defense. Fortunately for the Vikings, he returned after considering an offer from the New York Jets. He won’t have to build any new chemistry or try and find his spot in a new defense — Barr’s return means he can further build on the 71.2 overall grade in 2018 that continued his rise from a 50.5 mark in 2016.
Barr made 13 starts and recorded 71 total tackles (according to team stats) in 2018. All of his 3.0 sacks occurred in the final four games of the season. He also had eight tackles for loss and a forced fumble as he made his fourth straight Pro Bowl.
The former UCLA standout has made four straight Pro Bowls.