The Vikings next target is wide open.
It's not because of trickery on offense or a missed assignment on defense.
Instead, it's through the implementation of a multiyear plan adjusted to accomplish some specific goals through free agency this offseason.
Many pundits have projected that Minnesota will select a receiver with the 23rd overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, but General Manager Rick Spielman believes the Vikings aren't pigeonholed to a certain decision.
Spielman was asked about the pick Tuesday morning as a guest on NFLHQ and cited free agents who were brought in from other teams, as well as Vikings who were re-signed as reasons the team can think freely when surveying the options for another two-plus weeks.
"We were pretty active for us in free agency this year," Spielman said. "I know our biggest goal was to address the offensive line, and we went out and signed Andre Smith and Alex Boone and [re-signed] Mike Harris, who started for us last year."
Injuries caused the full-season sidelining of center John Sullivan (replaced by veteran Joe Berger) and right tackle Phil Loadholt (replaced by rookie T.J. Clemmings). The Vikings were the only team in the NFL to use the same starting five players for all 16 games last season, but wanted to add competition, depth, and perhaps a degree of feistiness to the position group, according to Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
The defending NFC North champs are poised to return every defensive starter from 2015 and multiple young players from a team that went 11-5. Minnesota also brought in safety Michael Griffin from Tennessee and linebackers Emmanuel Lamur (from Cincinnati) and Travis Lewis (from Detroit) during free agency.
"We signed some guys on defense as well, so by us being able to do what we did in free agency, it's going to leave No. 23 wide open to us," Spielman said. "We're not locked into anything. It will be truly following your board and taking the best player available. That also gives you the opportunity, if there's something unique, you may move up, but if there's enough depth, which I think there is enough depth in this draft, that you could move back and accumulate more picks."
The last time the Vikings selected 23rd overall they drafted Sharrif Floyd in 2013.