The 2020 NFL Draft is just under two weeks away, which means that The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be looked at heading into this year’s draft including what their needs are and who they could be targeting. The Minnesota Vikings will be the 22nd team evaluated.
After a disappointing first season with Kirk Cousins under center, the Minnesota Vikings returned to the playoffs in 2019. They got the sixth seed going 10-6. The Vikings even managed to upset Super Bowl-favorites, the New Orleans Saints in the first round defeating them in New Orleans in overtime. Though the team showed signs of returning to its 2017 form, some of the major position groups will be very different as the Vikings try to retool their older roster.
Kirk Cousins had his most efficient season this past year throwing 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. This is part of why he received his two-year $66 million extension to keep him in Minnesota until 2023. The Vikings had one of the better receiving cores in the league with the duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Diggs had a rough start to the year and Thielen missed a lot of time due to injury. This led to the Vikings moving Diggs to Buffalo for multiple draft picks. The Vikings felt comfortable with this because there was no need to have two well paid wide receivers on their roster when they are a run-first team. The Vikings offense went through Dalvin Cook this year. Cook played a career-high 14 games and rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns. They also found a very nice change of pace and back up running back in rookie third-round pick Alexander Mattison this season.
Defensively the Vikings took a slight step back. Though they were still a very impressive unit they showed signs of age this past season. Xavier Rhodes had aggressively regressed this past year. He looked nothing like the elite shutdown cornerback we knew him to be. This ultimately led to the team cutting him at the start of the offseason. The team also cut veteran defensive lineman Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph. They also lost cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander who both signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Losing those players are going to hurt the Vikings but they still have Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, Mike Hughes and franchise-tagged Anthony Harris to stay with them another year. A very underrated signing the Vikings made was that they signed Michael Pierce to replace Linval Joseph.
2020 NFL Draft Picks
First Round (two picks): No. 22, 25
Second Round (one pick): No. 58
Third Round (two picks): No. 89, 105
Fourth Round (one pick): No. 132
Fifth Round (one pick): No. 167
Sixth Round (two picks): No. 201, 205
Seventh Round (three picks): No. 219, 249, 253
Cornerbacks- There is a reason why cornerback is plural. The Vikings lost three starting-caliber cornerbacks and only have one left. In order to run their base defense, the Vikings need three starting cornerbacks on their roster.
Wide Receiver- After trading away Stefon Diggs the Vikings opened up the need for a receiver to play opposite Adam Thielen. Since this year’s group of receivers are so deep the Vikings have the option to can get a day one impact receiver early or wait till the later rounds and find a receiver that can start, but be comfortable as the team’s secondary receiver long term.
Edge Rusher- The main reason Everson Griffen was cut was because of his cap hit, the production was still there from him. The Vikings need to draft someone to take pressure away from Danielle Hunter from the other side of the field and try to replace Griffen’s production.
Defensive Tackle- Mike Zimmer’s defense plays better when he has very good play from him interior defensive lineman. After adding Micheal Pierce the Vikings should consider adding a defensive tackle to play next to Pierce.
Offensive Line- The Vikings offensive line has added a valuable starter in each of the last three drafts, but still need an upgrade at right guard and left tackle. If they can find an upgrade at right guard and/or a developmental tackle to replace eventually Riley Rieff that would go a long way for the Vikings run game and offense as a whole.
2020 NFL Draft Targets
Pick No. 22: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
Edge rusher might not be the most pressing need for the Vikings, but with the depth at wide receiver and cornerback in this draft, the Vikings might have to address it first. Gross-Matos had a great combine and solidified his status as a first-round pick there. He has a very high football IQ and is one of the best pure 4-3 defensive ends in this draft. Mike Zimmer could get 8-10 sacks a season out of Gross-Matos by his second or third year in the league.
Pick No. 25: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
After C.J. Henderson, the third-best cornerback in this draft is a toss-up depending on scheme and preference. A.J. Terrell could be a good scheme fit for what the Vikings want to do. He is not shutdown cornerback that Xavier Rhodes was and likely will get burned by big-name receivers in his rookie season. But Terrell is a playmaker at the cornerback position who can bring an interception to the house on any given play. He might not wow the league right away, but should be a great starter for Mike Zimmers defense.
Pick No. 58: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
Michael Pittman Jr.’s range is between the middle of the second to the early in the third round. He would be a great addition to a Vikings team who is trying to win now. Pittman Jr. can be the team’s number two right out right away and has number one receiver potential down the road. He might not be the route runner that Stefon Diggs was, but he is fantastic possession receiver. Pittman Jr. could have people looking back and wondering how he fell so far in the draft by year two or three in the league.
Pick No. 89: Robert Hunt, OG, Louisiana
Robert Hunt has the versatility to play guard or right tackle in the NFL. If drafted by the Vikings, he will start at right guard right away. He is the type of nasty offensive lineman the Vikings need to complete the interior of their offensive line and increase production out of their running game. This would be amazing for the Vikings to get a valuable offensive line starter at this point in the draft.
Pick No. 105: Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State
Josiah Scott has promising tape showing that he could be a starting cornerback at the NFL level. But he also has the disadvantage of being small for a corner. He will likely have to compete for playing time early in his career, but has the potential to be a starting nickel back in the league. Usually, Mike Zimmer has a prototype for how he likes his cornerback, but because of the changes made on the defensive staff the Vikings can be looking for a different kind of cornerback than they usually do during the draft.
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