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Lunchbreak: PFF Lists NFL Teams' Top Needs 2 Weeks into Free Agency  

The Vikings were certainly active during the first two weeks of free agency.

Minnesota added more than a dozen veteran players to the roster as it prepares for the 2024 season.

With the NFL Draft fast approaching, what are some of the Vikings remaining needs?

Dalton Wasserman of analytics site Pro Football Focus on Wednesday opined each team’s biggest needs with the first wave of free agency in the rearview mirror. For the Vikings, he pointed to quarterback, guard and cornerback. Wasserman wrote:

With the two first-round picks in hand, the Vikings are well positioned to find their next franchise quarterback. In the meantime, the team has primarily focused on bolstering its defense, adding Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman and Andrew Van Ginkel in the process.

Minnesota could use some help at guard. Dalton Risner is still a free agent, while Ed Ingram remains but has struggled during his first two NFL seasons. Cornerback is likely a priority on defense after that group ranked 24th in the NFL in coverage grade last season. Mekhi Blackmon was a nice pick in last year's draft, but the team should continue to search for more talent.

Worth mentioning is that the Vikings did re-sign guard Blake Brandel and added veteran interior offensive lineman Dan Feeney, and they also recently added free agent cornerback Shaq Griffin, whom Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said "fits the mold" well for Brian Flores' defense.

It's also interesting to see what Wasserman deemed important for Minnesota's division rivals.

He said the Bears still need to find support at quarterback, edge rusher and wide receiver.

After trading Justin Fields, the Bears will obviously select a quarterback, likely Caleb Williams, first in the upcoming draft. They've done a nice job so far of creating a supportive environment for their new signal-caller. Acquiring Keenan Allen for a fourth-round pick is a steal. One more wide receiver to pair with Allen and DJ Moore would make Chicago's offense very dangerous.

The Bears defense played well down the stretch last season, but they need a premier pass rusher opposite Montez Sweat. There are a couple of edge defenders, notably Dallas Turner and Jared Verse, worthy of the ninth overall pick, and that could be the position of focus if the top three wide receivers are off the board.

Wasserman said the Lions need to focus on safety, receiver and the interior offensive line; he noted similar needs for the Packers at safety, interior offensive line and linebacker.

Click here to read his notes on all 32 teams.

Goessling: Vikings are 'evolving' defense for 2024

As mentioned above, Minnesota has added a number of key defensive pieces during free agency thus far.

Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune asked what the team is looking for to "evolve" its defense after experiencing high highs and low lows last season. He wrote:

Their top three edge rushers (Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum and Marcus Davenport) were all headed for free agency. Linebacker Jordan Hicks, who'd been kind of a hub for communicating the Vikings intricate series of pre-snap checks, was also going to be a free agent. Safety Harrison Smith was contemplating retirement, and the Vikings four-game losing streak at the end of the season had revealed the defense's need for help at all three levels.

As they looked at possible replacements, O'Connell and Flores built their search around several traits: corners who could play more man coverage than the Vikings had used in 2023, linebackers who could inject speed into the middle of the defense and players with the versatility Flores prizes in his shape-shifting scheme.

Goessling noted that Minnesota used three safeties "almost constantly" in 2023 but could "return to playing three corners in nickel packages," thanks to the addition of Griffin that could allow for Byron Murphy, Jr., to shift back into the slot more permanently.

And the Vikings front seven will look markedly different in 2024, with Jonah Williams, Jerry Tillery and Jihad Ward added to the defensive line, Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel rushing the quarterback and Blake Cashman playing next to Ivan Pace, Jr., in the middle.


O'Connell said he's challenged Vikings defensive coaches this offseason to find ways to develop some of the team's draft picks from the past two seasons, and the Vikings could again count on growth from players like cornerbacks Akayleb Evans and Mekhi Blackmon. If they use more man coverage in 2024, they'll need corners beyond Griffin and Murphy to reliably handle a larger workload.