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Lunchbreak: O-Line, Cornerback Could Be Among Vikings Draft Needs

The 2020 NFL Draft is 11 weeks away. The next milestones of the offseason calendar are the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine and free agency.

But since the draft is widely viewed as the offseason's biggest event, there is still plenty of focus on it even in early February.

Vikings reporter Chad Graff, who writes for The Athletic, recently looked at a handful of players that he believes could be of interest to the Vikings in the draft.

Graff focused on offensive linemen and cornerbacks, as all 16 players included in his article focused on those two positions.

Graff began with Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, who is ranked 18th overall by Dane Brugler, a draft analyst with The Athletic.

Becton was a fast riser up draft boards this season, beginning his junior year as a likely late-round pick and bolstering his stock into one likely selected in the first round.

He's a massive tackle at 6-foot-7, 369 pounds, but still moves well. Players of his size generally don't fit well into the zone rushing scheme that the Vikings run, but he could be an omission to that.

Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs — a younger brother of Vikings wide receiver Stefon — is Brugler's 19th overall player. Graff said he could be a fit in Minnesota.

The younger Diggs seemed destined to become a first-round pick a year ago as a junior, but a foot injury ended his season and lowered his draft stock, so he returned for his senior season. It's all led to Diggs being widely-viewed as the second-best corner in this draft.

He's a big corner (2 inches taller than Stefon and 16 pounds heavier) but has speed, too.

Cornerback Kristian Fulton could also be an option in the secondary, as the former LSU standout is Brugler's 20th overall prospect.

Graff wrote:

If the Vikings lose Mackensie Alexander in free agency, Fulton could make a natural replacement as a somewhat similar prospect.

He was a five-star prospect out of high school and became one of the best corners in the SEC, helping LSU shut down Clemson in the national championship game.

Graff also looked at Southern Cal offensive tackle Austin Jackson, whom Brugler has as his No. 23 prospect.

Jackson is young after playing as a true freshman at USC and declaring for the draft after his junior year, but he's shown plenty of promise during his time in college.

He became the team's starting left tackle as a sophomore and earned All-Pac-12 honors as a junior. He did that even after missing summer workouts because he donated bone marrow to his sister, who suffers from Diamond-Blackfan anemia.

The Vikings currently hold the 25th overall pick in the draft.

Graff's full list of 16 potential fits with the Vikings can be found here.

View the best photos from the Vikings team photographers of linebackers in 2019.

Cronin: Zimmer could hand over play-calling duties in 2020

The Vikings won't take the field for a game until August for preseason play, with regular-season games to follow over the next few months.

But at some point in 2020, ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin believes Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer will hand over defensive play-calling duties.

Each ESPN reporter who covers an NFL team was asked to come up with a bold prediction for the upcoming year, as it could involve offseason roster moves, regular-season results or anything else on their minds.

Cronin opined that she believes Zimmer will hand off play-calling duties to either Andre Patterson or Adam Zimmer, a duo that were recently named co-defensive coordinators.

Cronin wrote:

We might not see this come to fruition for a while, but the Vikings' head coach might decide to delegate calling defensive plays to one of his two co-defensive coordinators. Zimmer has been mulling over this idea for several seasons.

The reason it's believable now more than before is that his son, Adam, the Vikings' linebackers coach, is the co-DC along with defensive-line coach Andre Patterson. What better way for the elder Zimmer to pass on his legacy as a defensive guru than to guide his son through the process of calling plays so he'll be able to take over those duties this fall, or allow his close confidant in Patterson to finally get an opportunity to call his own game.

Mike Zimmer is 57-38-1 in his first six seasons in Minnesota, and has led the Vikings to three playoff appearances in that span.

He has also built one of the league's top defenses, as Minnesota has ranked no worse than 11th in points allowed per game. In fact, the Vikings have finished in the top nine in points allowed per game in each of the past five seasons.

Patterson (defensive line) and Adam Zimmer (linebackers) will each continue to coach their respective position groups in 2020.