The offseason is rolling along, as voluntary workouts begin in less than two weeks and the 2017 NFL Draft takes place at the end of the month.
With the focus starting to turn back to actual football, Kevin Patra of NFL.com took a look at how the offseason shaped up in the NFC North.
Patra listed Vikings defensive end Datone Jones as the biggest sleeper addition. Jones, a former first-round pick, signed with Minnesota last month after spending the first four seasons of his career with Green Bay.
On paper, Jones is buried behind several defensive linemen -- Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, etc. -- making him a redundant factor obscured on the depth chart. However, Mike Zimmer always seems to wring the most out of his front-line defenders. Jones' penetrating ability aligns well with the Vikings' scheme. The 26-year-old has the potential to shift inside in passing situations and wreak havoc up the gut.
Jones has 80 tackles (58 solo), 9.0 sacks, seven passes defended, an interception and two fumble recoveries in 59 career games.
Patra also looked ahead to where the Vikings could focus on in the draft. He projects Minnesota to keep adding to its offense.
Adding another young running back from a deep RB draft class to pair with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon should happen later this month.
The Vikings currently hold eight picks in the upcoming draft. Minnesota's first selection is slated to be in the second round with the 48th overall pick.
Heinicke hoping for bounce-back season
Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke's 2016 season was one of frustration.
Yet as the 24-year-old prepares for another season in Purple, he has an optimistic outlook on football.
Harry Minium of The Virginia-Pilot recently caught up with Heinicke at Old Dominion University, where the quarterback chatted about his past and his future.
Heinicke was injured last summer when he severed a tendon trying to get into a friend's locked apartment. He missed all of training camp and most of the season before being added to the Vikings 53-man roster in October.
Back in Norfolk to work out this winter and early spring at ODU, he calls the incident a "low point" of his career.
"The last thing I want to do is to keep beating myself up over it," he said. "Yeah, I made a mistake. But the only thing I can do is move on from it. That's what I've done."
ODU quarterbacks coach Ron Whitcomb, who recruited Heinicke, said "the accident is something he had to overcome, and will still have to overcome in the future. It will be with him for a few years.
"But he can't let it define him as an NFL player."
Minium said Heincke ready for the rigors of another pro season, which essentially begins later this month when the Vikings open voluntary workouts.
Now, a well-sculpted 205, he leaves later this week for Minnesota. He will take a leisurely drive, stopping in Washington, Pittsburgh and Chicago, before pulling into Minneapolis early next week. Offseason workouts begin April 17 and don't truly end until the season is over.
"Training camp is where you really learn," Heinicke said. "During the season, I was the scout team quarterback. One week, I was Russell Wilson. The next I was Carson Palmer. I was doing my best to be someone else."