The Vikings are nearly a month into free agency and less than three weeks from participating in the 2019 NFL Draft.
NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison surveyed the landscape and came up with “one burning question” for each NFC team on Monday (his AFC list is scheduled to post Tuesday).
Much of the offseason conversation about the Vikings has been about the offensive line and the potential of adding players up front with early picks.
Minnesota has signed veterans Josh Kline and Dakota Dozier during free agency, but many mock drafts believe that an offensive lineman could don a purple draft hat during the process.
Of the Vikings, Harrison asked, “Can they afford to not spend two picks, including their first selection, on the offensive line?”
He followed with this self-generated response:
Despite finishing last season with a thud, the Vikings are ready to win now. The pieces are in place. Should Minnesota draft a DT early, that's fine. But as much as GM Rick Spielman and company might desire to go best player available with their picks, quality play up front on offense is what's keeping them from the promised land. Running the football was an intermittent fancy for this group last year, and leaning on Kirk Cousins to chuck it 40 times per game isn't the answer. Finding a road-grading guard or tackle can be tricky with the way the college game has evolved, yet that's the Vikes' quickest path to their fifth Super Bowl appearance. The acquisition of Josh Kline tightens the screws, but the O-line still should be the focus for this serious contender.
Vikings in “crowded middle”
The Vikings also are a week away from the scheduled return of veterans to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center where they will participate in the team’s offseason workout program.
After multiple NFL writers took a look at roster resets last week, Gregg Rosenthal categorized NFC teams into five categories.
He listed the NFC Champion Rams, runner-up Saints and Eagles as “playoffs or bust” and added that anything less than a trip to the postseason “would qualify as a huge disappointment.”
The next grouping was called “the crowded middle.” It included three of the four NFC North teams (Minnesota, Chicago and Green Bay).
Rosenthal called the roster continuity on defense under Head Coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman “remarkable.”
They kept that trend going by retaining Anthony Barr and keeping Everson Griffen this offseason. With Kirk Cousins entering the second year of his three-year contract, it sure feels like the Vikings are in a win-now window before the group breaks up.
Rosenthal credited the Bears for their success in Matt Nagy’s first year as a head coach but wrote “it’s going to be difficult to repeat such a dominant defensive campaign.”
Of Green Bay, Rosenthal wrote:
The Packers did plenty to buoy coordinator Mike Pettine's defense in free agency, so it's on new head coach Matt LaFleur to deliver offensive improvements.
The other teams listed in the crowded middle were the Cowboys, Falcons, Seahawks and Panthers.
The Lions, 49ers and Buccaneers followed in the “don’t sleep on us” category.
Rudolph wins MVP
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has participated in multiple events surrounding the Final Four and showed he still knows his way on the hardwood.
Rudolph played for a team coached by Charles Barkley in a celebrity “Crunch Classic” game hosted by the University of St. Thomas on Sunday and took home a trophy for being named the game’s MVP.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Rudolph was able to get a picture while holding his hardware in between hoops legends Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal after the game: