Although the regular season is still more than six months away, NFL teams are already chasing next year's Super Bowl ring.
Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar took a look at what he thinks the Vikings could do this offseason to grab their first Super Bowl in team history.
Farrar believes Minnesota's biggest area of need is at wide receiver and listed offensive line, linebacker and safety as other areas the Vikings could target.
Fifth-round rookie Stefon Diggs led the Vikings with 84 targets, 52 receptions and 720 yards—pretty backward numbers for any top receiver in today's pass-happy NFL. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is a relative bastion of consistency, but after that are a lot of questions.
Farrar also suggested the Vikings could take another step forward as a team as long as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater does the same in his third season.
Bridgewater threw for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns while making his first Pro Bowl, but Farrar hinted more could be in store going forward.
(…if they are to ascend to the next level, they'll have to do one of two things: Follow the model of the 2000 Ravens, the 2002 Buccaneers and the 2015 Broncos with a decent-at-best quarterback and a historically great defense, or let Bridgewater open it up and enjoy a more balanced attack.
*The latter plan is more historically probable—as good as Zimmer is at creating defenses, waiting around for an all-time unit is a bit much. Zimmer said in January that the main thing his quarterback needs to correct is a tendency to throw the ball low and have passes batted down. *
Stadium roof is game-changer for Vikings
With U.S. Bank Stadium more than 90 percent complete, members of the media toured the stadium earlier this week.
Ben Goessling of ESPN.com noted how ethylene tetraflouroethylene (ETFE), which makes up 60 percent of the roof, will be strong against weather elements while giving the stadium an outdoor feel.
Goessling said the roof puts the Vikings at the forefront of stadium technology.
Snow, which felled the Metrodome's roof in 2010 following a 17-inch storm, also won't stick to the roof, sliding off its steep pitch into catch basins and heated gutters that funnel it back into the ground. U.S. Bank Stadium won't be the first sports venue covered in ETFE (remember the "Water Cube" in the 2008 Beijing Olympics?), but it will have the largest ETFE roof in the world. The stadium's roof has already been featured in Popular Mechanics. It also is on the forefront of a new trend; *the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium will have ETFE on the roof, and HKS, the architect that designed U.S. Bank Stadium, also included an ETFE canopy in plans for the Los Angeles Rams' new stadium.*
"You really do feel like you're sitting outside," Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said. "And yet, the roof has fritting on it, so it kind of diffuses the light. It's not like a stark blaze of light; it's really kind of soft. You see clouds, you see the sun. You get that indoor-outdoor feel."
View some of the best images of the defensive backs from 2015.
Season review of defensive backs and looking ahead to 2016
*Star Tribune *writer Matt Vensel highlighted the defensive backs in his offseason review of the Vikings roster.
Vensel said Harrison Smith earned praise for his play, as the safety had 66 tackles [press box tally] and two interceptions, including a pick-six against the Giants.
*At free safety, Harrison Smith finally got some national recognition for his stellar play, though it took injuries to get him selected to his first Pro Bowl. *
Vensel said that cornerback Captain Munnerlyn fared well in his second season in Minnesota and that cornerback Xavier Rhodes got better as the season went along.
Vensel also said that Minnesota's need in the secondary is "moderate" and that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer could focus on a safety next to Smith.
Strong safety is again a need, though the position may be the least important in Zimmer's defense. With Munnerlyn's contract expiring after the 2016 season, the Vikings could look to draft a potential replacement at nickelback, unless they think Jabari Price is the guy.