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Lunchbreak: OL & CB Position Groups Lead to Project Vikings as '1 of Highest Variance Teams'

The Vikings have three-plus months before they have to settle on their final 53-man roster, let alone 22 starters.

But that doesn't stop league analysts from projecting starters for NFL teams and evaluating those anticipated front-runners.'s Gregg Rosenthal recently did just that, and he offered a number of thoughts on Minnesota’s position groups.

Kirk Cousins at quarterback was a no-brainer for Rosenthal, who said it would take a "blistering preseason" from third-round selection Kellen Mond to apply any level of pressure this season.

The Vikings offensive line, he said, is a "boom-or-bust" unit. Rosenthal wrote:

Brian O'Neill is solid at right tackle and there are major question marks everywhere else. The Vikings will be counting on two rookies (Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis) and two recent draft picks (Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury) to improve greatly.

No quarterback rises and falls with his offensive line and play-calling more than Cousins, so the paragraph above represents a major concern.

Rosenthal mentioned a similar floor and ceiling for Minnesota's cornerbacks group.

I'm fascinated to see Patrick Peterson in a different scheme, but he was not able to hold up last season in Arizona against No. 1 wideouts. He and Cameron Dantzler, who flashed as a rookie, are part of another boom-or-bust group on a team full of them.

Minnesota drafted receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette out of Iowa with the 157th selection. And while Rosenthal didn't make any qualms about that pick, he did express surprise that the Vikings didn't tab a wideout earlier.

It was weird that the Vikings waited until the fifth round to draft a receiver this year. In a league where most teams are trying to find four quality wideouts, the Vikings looked content with two. (Albeit two great ones [in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson]). This group screams out for a late addition, whether in free agency over the next couple months or during training camp.

The Vikings don't have tremendous depth at safety right now, but nonetheless, Rosenthal likes the expected starting duo of Harrison Smith and new addition Xavier Woods.

Don't be surprised if Xavier Woods turns into a surprise Pro Bowl candidate. [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer's defense is a Candyland for smart safeties, and Woods is an underrated player.

Rosenthal didn't mince words in describing the Vikings roster, saying it has a "stars and scrubs feel."

I see the Vikings as one of the highest variance teams in the NFL. Eleven wins wouldn't be a shock; 11 losses wouldn't either.

View images of all of the Minnesota Vikings 2020 NFL Draft picks.

Vikings 2020 draft class receives 'A+' grade 1 year later

Immediately after the 2020 NFL Draft last spring, analytics site Pro Football Focus gave the Vikings an "A" grade for their 15 selections.

PFF thought highly of the picks then. And a year later? Even more so. Michael Renner wrote:

Justin Jefferson is obvious after breaking the rookie receiving record, but Cameron Dantzler was quietly the second-highest-graded rookie corner after a strong second half of the season.

Minnesota was the only team to receive an "A+" other than the Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers, for which Renner highlighted a Hawkeyes alum and a pair of former Golden Gophers.

[Tristan] Wirfs was already a top-five right tackle in the NFL as a rookie, while [Antoine] Winfield [Jr.] proved to already be a playmaking safety. When those are your first two picks, it was a slam-dunk draft. Add in receiver Tyler Johnson, who flashed with three broken tackles on 12 catches, and it's just icing on the cake.

Renner gave the Bears a "B" for their 2020 draft class. The Lions received a "C+," and the Packers were the lowest-graded team in the NFL with a "D" for their 2020 rookie class.

Former Viking Jeremiah Sirles joins alma mater's broadcast team

Former Vikings offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles, who played for the Vikings in 2016 and 2017, is returning to his alma mater in a different capacity.

Sirles will serve as a sideline reporter for Nebraska football games starting this season. The role will keep Sirles around the game he loves, and the on-air position isn't entirely new for him. During his playing days and after, he's made regular appearances on Twin Cities radio shows.