The 2021 NFL Draft is now less than a week away.
Every NFL team's roster will change and expand after adding talented prospects to the mix, and the Vikings are no different. But before that happens, analytics site Pro Football Focus ranked the 32 rosters as they stand right now.
PFF's Anthony Treash noted that the list was "heavily influenced by the two-year PFF WAR (wins above replacement) of the players … but also had some subjective projection involved for those younger, emerging talents.
Treash ranked Minnesota's roster at No. 19 but added that the Vikings rank 11th in "draft capital." He wrote:
The Vikings have one of the best, if not the best, wide receiver duos entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen ranked second and sixth, respectively, in PFF grade at the position in 2020.
It's a different story down in the trenches and at cornerback. The latter position is likely to play a massive part in defining the team's 2021 season. Right now, Minnesota is set to trot out veteran Patrick Peterson and 2020 third-round pick Cameron Dantzler as its two starting outside corners.
Peterson's decline last season was evident, with him recording a 53.1 coverage grade — his lowest since his rookie campaign. Dantzler had two incredible outings in his rookie campaign that resulted in a coverage grade north of 90.0, but he fell flat otherwise. It was a promising season, but he still has a lot to prove.
The highest-ranked NFC North team was Green Bay at No. 4, and Treash slated the Packers at 19th in draft capital.
According to PFF WAR, last year's Packers fielded the NFL's most valuable quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback. They also boasted the highest-graded safety room in coverage with Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, Jr., leading the way, as well as the second-highest-graded tackle in the form of David Bakhtiari. So, all things considered, it's no surprise why Green Bay cemented a spot in the top five.
There are still a couple of gaping holes the Packers should look to address early in the 2021 NFL Draft: wide receiver and cornerback. The dream scenario for Green Bay is to secure prospects like Rondale Moore and Asante Samuel, Jr., for those two positions.
The Bears came in 23rd on the list (23rd in draft capital, as well), and the Lions fell dead last but with a draft capital that ranked eighth overall.
[Detroit's] top two wide receivers — Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams — each have only one season with a PFF grade above 70.0 in six years in the NFL. The secondary has some potential but is young, and the early returns have been uninspiring. Their projected outside corners, 2019 fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye and 2020 first-round pick Jeff Okudah, ranked 91st and 118th, respectively, among qualifying cornerbacks in coverage grade a season ago. There really isn't a position group of great strength, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see them claim the No. 1 overall pick in 2022.
How will OL depth in this year's draft impact Vikings approach?
No matter how much speculation one dives into, it's nearly impossible to predict exactly how the NFL Draft's first round will play out when dominoes start falling.
Minnesota is slated to have the 14th overall pick, and Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press narrowed position targets down to offensive line or defensive end for the Vikings. He quoted CBS Sports and NFL Network analyst Charles Davis, who predicted Minnesota's move:
"I always joke about the Zimmercratic oath. It's like the Hippocratic Oath. First, do no harm to that defense, and they weren't what they've been (last year)," said Davis, who mocked Miami's Jaelan Phillips to the Vikings.
But another reason Davis believes Minnesota will go defense in the first round is due to depth at positions in the draft.
While trades could shake up their draft order, the Vikings don't have a second-round selection but do hold the Nos. 78 and 90 picks in the third round. If they take a defensive end in the first round, such as Phillips or Michigan's Kwity Paye, they still might have a chance to get a starting-caliber offensive lineman later in the draft.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper agrees with the strength of offensive linemen in the draft, calling it the "third-strongest" position group after wide receivers and cornerbacks. But while he doesn't eliminate the possibility that the Vikings could go with a defensive end at No. 14, he has them selecting Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw in his latest mock draft.
Tomasson noted that if "one of the two highest-rated tackles" – Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater – somehow became options for the Vikings, "either would be tough to turn down."
If Sewell and Slater are both out of reach for Minnesota, then it gets more interesting. But draft analyst and former Vikings safety Corey Chavous believes Darrisaw, a three-year starter in college, is in a similar category with those players.
Chavous said it would be "grand larceny" if Minnesota could snag Darrisaw at 14.
Also intriguing at No. 14 could be Alijah Vera-Tucker of USC, who played left guard in 2019 before moving to left tackle in 2020; he is considered to most likely be a guard in the NFL.