In a series leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks and *Around the NFL's *Conor Orr are looking at each NFL team and its biggest needs, breaking the league down by division.
Orr on Tuesday assessed the NFC North and said that Minnesota's three primary goals in the draft should be offensive line, defensive line and cornerback. The offensive line, Orr said, is the most pressing need. He wrote:
*The Vikings might be in a logical position to address some of their offensive line needs, seeing as some of the better tackles (in a bad class, mind you) will slip beyond the first round. *
It was difficult to see Minnesota boxed out of the top-tier O-line market this offseason because quarterback protection – and by extension, a legitimate running game – is the only thing standing between the Vikes and first place in the division.
Orr opined that all four of the NFC North teams should target defensive line support in this year's draft.
According to Orr, the Bears biggest needs are defensive line, offensive tackle and wide receiver; and the Lions biggest needs are tight end, linebacker and defensive line.
Orr said the Packers, who are slated to make eight picks in the draft, will look to fill gaps at cornerback, pass rusher and running back. He argued, however, that Green Bay won't necessarily take a running back with their first-round selection.
The Packers have some serious foundational issues that need to be addressed in the offseason if they want to escape their current plateau and reach the Super Bowl again. Safety position excluded, I was hard-pressed to find a member of the secondary on their roster that played at or above replacement level. The team should be – and probably is – thinking about the future beyond Clay Matthews, which is why local product T.J. Watt might be a fun addition at No. 29.
Coller: What would ideal Vikings schedule look like?
The league announced Tuesday that the 2017 NFL schedule is set to be released Thursday at 7 p.m. (CT).
Many teams, including the Vikings, are holding contests for fans to predict their squad's respective schedule. Matthew Coller of 1500 ESPN joined in the fun, breaking down what he thinks would be the most ideal schedule for Minnesota.
Coller took into consideration that the Vikings will play the Browns in London either Week 7 or Week 8, and that the final game of the season is now always slated between division rivals. Assuming those two things, Coller set up the rest of the season in his opinion of the "best-case scenario," starting with the Vikings facing the Saints at home. He wrote:
Opening at home is always nice. Crowds early last season were deafening for opponents. Sure, going against Drew Brees isn't the easiest way to open your year, but the Saints still haven't fixed their defense. This one would offer entertainment value, a chance for the Vikings' pass defense to shine and the offense to gain some early confidence.
He followed that up by a road game against the Bears before returning home to host the Ravens. In Weeks 4 and 5, Coller said he'd like to see the Vikings play back-to-back road games at Detroit and at Atlanta, respectively.
The Vikings probably want to get the Lions in during the first quarter of the season after two crushing losses last year. Plus, with great quarterbacks on the way, Matt Stafford offers a good tune up for the bets of the best.
By now, everybody's on the same page and there's lots of film to see how the Falcons have changed post-Kyle Shanahan.
The remaining "ideal" schedule according to Coller includes consecutive home games in Weeks 13 and Weeks 14 and finishing up the season against the division-rival Packers.
The Vikings face elite quarterbacks in five games and decent ones in all the rest except for Cleveland and Chicago. It's not an easy list of opponents, so you hope some of the greats are spread out and you can end the year by beating Rodgers.