The NFL Combine, free agency and the NFL Draft are fast approaching.
In a piece that breaks down every NFL team's biggest need, Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated opined that the Vikings largest need to target this offseason is offensive tackle. Benoit wrote:
Multiple injuries at one position almost always bring big trouble – especially at a reactionary position like tackle. Much like how corners react to receivers, tackles react to edge rushers. And the tackles in Minnesota simply couldn't keep up in 2016. After Matt Kalil (right hip), Andre Smith (right elbow) and Jake Long (left Achilles) each went down before Thanksgiving, T.J. Clemmings (whose future is as a backup right tackle, at best) was forced to protect Sam Bradford's blind side. The Vikings had to overhaul their scheme just to hide him. With Kalil and Smith entering free agency (both may walk; Kalil was inconsistent and Smith is injury-prone), Minnesota must remake the position that killed this team.
Within the rest of the NFC North, Benoit said the Lions should look to improve at defensive line, the Bears at wide receiver and the Packers at cornerback.
Yotter Breaks Down Vikings LBs Using PFF Metrics
In a recent piece analyzing the Vikings linebacker corps according to Pro Football Focus metrics, Viking Update's Tim Yotter called Anthony Barr "one of the most confounding players" on Minnesota's defense. Yotter said that Barr played the most defensive snaps for the Vikings. He wrote:
*Barr played in just over 99 percent of the snaps (1,025 of 1,053 on the season), but it wasn't always with Pro Bowl-caliber results. The analytics site Pro Football Focus gave Barr a poor grade of 43.1, but his results according to NFL data were very minimally below average. There was almost no difference between the Vikings defense with Barr on the field compared to the NFL's net yards over average statistic that uses the net yardage gained by the team while the player was on the field over a rolling six-year NFL average factoring in field position, down and distance. *
Yotter said that Eric Kendricks received an above-average PFF grade of 80.3 and was "marginally on the positive side of the net yards over average" while playing nearly 84 percent of the defensive snaps.
Yotter then went on to compare the metrics of veteran Chad Greenway with Emmanuel Lamur, who played his first season in purple in 2016. According to Yotter, Greenway played in almost 39 percent of snaps, while Lamur was under four percent.
With Greenway on the field, the Vikings defense was 0.69 yards better per run play than the NFL net average in similar situations but 1.2 yards worse than the NFL average on pass plays. Like Barr, he got an overall poor grade from PFF but was graded better in pass coverage than run defense.
*[Lamur] had the worst run-defense differential among all Vikings linebackers when he was on the field at minus-2.86 yards and the best pass differential at plus-0.56 yards. The problem is that he had about a 3-to-1 ratio of passing snaps compared to playing the run and only had 39 defensive snaps in total, according to the game stats. *