As they say, the show will go on.
The 2020 NFL Draft is set to go on as scheduled April 23-25, but the event will be held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin looked ahead to the draft and asked "What's next?" for the Vikings, saying questions will likely be answered about "the makeup of their roster, how competitive they'll be and which rookies will be expected to make an immediate impact."
Cronin first discussed what "mode" Minnesota is in. She suggested that the Vikings moves in free agency suggest "them going for the long play" but also emphasized that the team can still be competitive in the upcoming season. Cronin wrote:
Extending [Kirk] Cousins now instead of letting him play out the final year of his contract is a move reflective of a team that believes it's still in win-now mode. Parts of this roster are undergoing more of a reboot than rebuild, which is why an important question that arises from this year is how many starters [General Manager] Rick Spielman will need to draft. That answer varies depending on where coaches feel current players are in their development (i.e. how close are Mike Hughes and Holton Hill to being starters?). But drafting a cornerback, wide receiver, offensive lineman and possibly an edge rusher to compete for starting jobs is a necessity.
While Cronin believes Minnesota should draft a receiver to compete with recent free agent addition Tajaé Sharpe for the spot vacated by Stefon Diggs, she also feels the Vikings don't need to do so in the first round.
Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs III, Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk all have Scouts Inc. grades over 90. Depending upon when these five are selected, other receivers may get pushed further down the board (think Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims, etc.), and that's good news for Minnesota. With two first-round selections, the Vikings could trade back (let's say they trade the 22nd pick and draft a corner at 25) and earn an additional second- or third-round pick(s) in the process, which they could use to address the receiver position two times on Day 2 of the draft.
If Minnesota got two receivers from the second and/or third round, and had those players compete with … Sharpe and others for the No. 2 spot, the Vikings would have more flexibility to fill Diggs' void.
PFF: Vikings 'Best-case' NFL Draft scenario would be CB in 1st round
Minnesota's cornerback room will look drastically different for the 2020 season.
The Vikings terminated the contract of Xavier Rhodes, who has since signed with the Colts, and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander both joined the Bengals in free agency. Minnesota has seven cornerbacks on its roster – Hughes, Hill, Kris Boyd, Nate Meadors, Mark Fields, Kemon Hall and Marcus Sayles – but only Hughes and Hill have starting experience.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently opined a "best-case scenario" for all 32 teams in the 2020 NFL Draft. For Minnesota, PFF's Anthony Treash said that bolstering its defensive backfield will be key.
The Vikes have two first-round picks this year, so one of them, at the very least, has to be used on a corner. Utah's Jaylon Johnson is one to watch here — he posted an 84.4 coverage grade that ranked 12thamong Power-5 cornerbacks in 2019, and he forced tight coverage on 69 [percent] of his total targets last year, the sixth-highest rate in the FBS and over 20 percentage points higher than the FBS average.
CBS Sports highlights 8 'combine snubs' who could be drafted
Every season, teams find diamonds in the rough in the late rounds of the NFL Draft, and this year will prove no different. It just remains to be seen who the best value picks will be.
Looking ahead, CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso identified eight prospects whom he considers "combine snubs" who could be potential draft picks for teams: EDGE Oluwole Betiku (Illinois), G Kevin Dotson (Louisiana), QB Tyler Huntley (Utah), DT Bravvion Roy (Baylor), CB Reid Harrison-Ducros (Duquesne), G Zach Sammartino (Dartmouth), TE Giovanni Ricci (Western Michigan) and EDGE Ron'Dell Carter (James Madison).
Trapasso said that Dotson should be on teams' radar "simply because of his position on Louisiana's line." He wrote:
He manned – and locked down – the right guard spot next to right tackle Robert Hunt, who could be picked as early as the second round in a few weeks. Teams that want to emphasize point-of-attack power over agility for their blockers will be most intrigued by the 6-4, 320-pounder.
He's a technically sound road-grader in the run game and gets to the second level faster than you'd expect from his girth. In pass protection, Dotson is a brick wall, nearly impossible to bull rush to the quarterback.
Yes, he comes with lateral limitations, but the [pure power] with which he plays and his anchoring skill as a pass protector make him a draftable talent on the interior of the offensive line with starting potential.