What did the Chicago Bears division rival the Minnesota Vikings do this offseason?
The Minnesota Vikings had a bit of a reload as they cut ties with key name veterans such as Stefon Diggs, Everson Griffen, Josh Kline, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander, and Trae Waynes. They also had the deepest draft class of any team, infusing the group with youth. What does the Vikings roster look like after their 2020 offseason?
The most significant change will come at the wide receiver position where Justin Jefferson will try to fill in one-for-one with Stefon Diggs. Diggs leaves 95 targets and 63 receptions behind. Since 2011, only 13 rookies have hit over both marks, so the rest of the depth is going to need to pick up the slack, even in a best-case scenario.
The Vikings signed Tajae Sharpe, drafted K.J. Osborn, and added UDFA Quartney Davis to the mix at wide receiver. With Olabisi Johnson, Chad Bebee, and Dillon Mitchell, they have depth, but a lot questions as to who will step up.
On the offensive line, they lost Josh Kline, but Kline was aging and declining. Dakota Dozier, Dru Samia, and Brett Jones are all options to step in, and the team may even look to moving Riley Reiff to guard if rookie Ezra Cleveland is ready to start at left tackle. Nonetheless, the Vikings think they added a future left tackle in Cleveland, and Reiff will start for one more year at most. Kyle Hinton was a seventh-round pick who could also slot in at guard, but overall the Vikings will bring back four starters with Reiff, Brian O’Neil, Pat Elflein, and Garrett Bradbury. They have four or five options for that fifth spot.
With no big moves at running back and tight end, the offense is wrapped up with Nate Stanley as a late-round pick. The quarterback from Iowa will compete with Sean Mannion as a backup.
Big changes came on defense as Joseph and Griffen were let go. Michael Pierce was brought in to replace Joseph and is younger, with a similar build. Ifedi Odenigbo has stepped up in recent years, but the Vikings may look to using depth and rotations to fill in for Griffen across from Danielle Hunter.
They signed Anthony Zettel, then drafted D.J. Wonnum, and Kenny Wilkes. All three have a chance to add in rotationally. James Lynch is an inside/outside pass rusher and will provide depth with Jaylyn Holmes. Overall they lost Griffen, but a lot of depth, which may not be a dramatic drop off considering the age and progression of Griffen.
At linebacker, they drafted Troy Dye, who will come in as depth with Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and Eric Wilson. With Ben Gedeon and Cameron Smith, this is a young and deep group of linebackers.
Even more drastic than the defensive line changes are the moves at corner. All three starters from last year are moving on. They will look for third-year cornerback Mike Hughes to step up this year but drafted Jeff Gladney in round one to fill in as well. Beyond that, they drafted Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand. Dantzler has great length and technique, but lacks speed, while Hand is a sleeper and great scheme in Minnesota. They have Holton Hill and signed Mark Fields, but Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackesie Alexander turned into the potential of Jeff Gladney, Mike Hughes, and Harrison Hand.
At safety, the Vikings drafted Josh Metellus and Brian Coe as depth. Anthony Harris is only signed for one more year, so both could work for a starting spot next year.
Overall, the Vikings exchanged veterans for an infusion of youth and depth. The depth can make up for a lot, but the youth will not step right in and be just as good. The Vikings may have plateaued at best this offseason with eyes on a brighter future, rather than a shrinking window.