With free agency just two weeks away and the NFL Draft quickly approaching, teams across the league are have been taking deep looks at their roster and identifying positions of need.
NFL.com's Matt Harmon recently reviewed the needs of each team at "four key positions," including running back, wide receiver, quarterback and cornerback, starting with the first two skill positions. Harmon wrote:
Who needs a serious upgrade? Who can promote from within? Who can stand pat? And who should be thinking seriously about the long-term future?
In looking at the Vikings wide receiver situation, Harmon said Minnesota is in pretty good shape. He placed them in his "Stay the Course" category.
*The Vikings have an enviable top two at the wide receiver position in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, both flush with athletic gifts and technical prowess. Whoever takes snaps for Minnesota in 2018 will be giddy to exploit the talents of that duo. *
Two of the Vikings NFC North Rivals, the Packers and Bears, were pegged by Harmon as teams that need to "upgrade" at the wide receiver position through either free agency or the draft.
And what about at running back? Once again, Harmon opined that the Vikings should "Stay the Course" with their present situation in the backfield, although there are a couple question marks. He pointed out that rookie Dalvin Cook looked like a "budding superstar" in three-plus games – recording 354 rushing yards and two touchdowns – before suffering a torn ACL against the Lions in Week 4.
Minnesota more than made do with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon for the rest of the year, but the Vikings will look forward to welcoming a hopefully healthy Cook back into the fold in 2018.
Harmon placed the Packers and Bears in the same category as Minnesota but said that the Lions need an upgrade at running back.
Cronin: Vikings should focus on O-line and D-line at combine
The 2018 Scouting Combine is now officially underway, with players beginning their on-field drills today in Indianapolis.
With Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his staff, along with Vikings coaches, evaluating players over the next several days, which positions will be of most interest?
ESPN's Courtney Cronin opined that the Vikings should focus much of their attention on offensive and defensive linemen. She wrote:
Aside from figuring out who the quarterback will be in 2018, the Vikings other biggest need this offseason is to add pieces to the offensive line. The unit struggled to protect Case Keenum in the playoffs and has a number of question marks. It's unclear when Nick Easton and Pat Elflein are expected to return from offseason surgery, and the team is waiting to hear if/when 14-year veteran Joe Berger will announce his retirement.
Most mock drafts have Minnesota taking an offensive lineman at No. 30 in April, but the Vikings will also use their time at the combine to get a look at a handful of defensive tackle prospects who could add some much-needed depth, depending on what the team decides to do with Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen, [who are scheduled to become free agents].
Cronin highlighted three players that could be intriguing prospects to watch at the combine: UCLA tackle Kolton Miller, Ohio State guard Billy Price and Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, of whom she wrote the following:
Vita Vea and Da'Ron Payne might be off the board when the Vikings pick at No. 30, but Hurst would be a nice fit if the Vikings elect to choose a defensive tackle in the first round. The Michigan product is projected as a 3-technique tackle in a 4-3 defense and could be a perfect fit next to Linval Joseph. Hurst graded out as one of the best interior pass-rusher/run-stopper combo players in college football last season.