The 2018 NFL Draft is now a week away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the Minnesota Vikings 2018 NFL Draft profile.
Oh, what a ride it was.
Between the injuries, quarterback controversy and a certain miracle in Minneapolis, the 2017 season was one to remember for the Vikings. Riding the league’s best defense, Minnesota soared to a 13-3 record, their best mark since 1998. Despite an embarrassing loss in the NFC Championship, the Vikings have plenty to look forward to heading into 2018.
Offensively, the Vikings were one of the most efficient in the NFL. The Vikings ranked near the top of the league in passing yards per game (11th), rushing yards per game (seventh) and third-down conversion percentage (third). This was thanks in large part to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterback Case Keenum. However, with Shurmur being hired as the New York Giants’ new head coach and Keenum leaving for Denver, the Vikings had some rebuilding to do on offense.
To begin their offseason, Minnesota added former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as their new offensive coordinator. They then made a splash free-agent signing in Kirk Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million deal.
Although the Vikings have a talented offense, it is their defense that stole the show in 2017. Minnesota’s defense was by far the best in the league, ranking first in both yards and points allowed. Their defense has elite talent, with players like Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph to name a few.
As if this were not enough, the Vikings also added Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in free agency. With a plethora of young talent led by coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings defense is primed to repeat as the NFL’s best.
Picks and Needs
The Minnesota Vikings have eight picks in the NFL Draft as they attempt to reload for a possible Super Bowl run.
First round (1 pick): 30
Second round (1): 62
Third round (1): 94
Fourth round (0):
Fifth round (1): 167
Sixth round (3): 204, 213, 218
Seventh round (1): 225
Offensive line – The one glaring need on this team is offensive line. Despite having one of the most productive rushing attacks in the league, Vikings running backs only averaged 3.9 yards per carry in 2017.
In addition, starting guard Joe Berger retired this offseason, leaving an even bigger hole. It is highly likely that the Vikings draft an offensive lineman early in the draft.
Wide receiver – The trio of Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kendall Wright will be scary in 2018, but the Vikings could still use some depth at the position. Wright is playing on a one-year deal, making his future with the team uncertain.
Also, former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell’s time with the team is likely limited. Adding depth to the wide receiver room may be a wise decision for 2018 and beyond.
Cornerback – The ageless wonder Terence Newman remains unsigned in free agency, leaving a hole at the slot corner position. Mackensie Alexander may fill that role, but in a pass-happy NFL, you can never have too many cornerbacks. Trae Waynes’ rookie contract is also due to expire after next season, and it is uncertain whether or not he will re-sign with the team.
Drafting a cornerback will provide more depth to the position, as well as providing a possible replacement for Waynes.
Linebacker – In a similar situation, both Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks’ rookie contracts are due to expire next year. It is highly unlikely that the Vikings would allow both players to leave in free agency. However, there may be a hole at the position come 2019. Zimmer hates playing rookies on defense, so drafting a linebacker now may allow for a “redshirt” year.
Pick No. 30: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Wynn has been a very popular pick for the Vikings as of late, and there is a good reason why. Wynn is one of the most technically sound guards in this year’s draft, displaying solid run blocking and above-average pass protection. He played both guard and tackle at Georgia, giving him added versatility on the offensive line. His excellent blocking ability and versatility would be a much-needed upgrade at the guard position.
Pick No. 62: Darius Leonard, OLB, South Carolina State
With explosive playing speed and consistently high production, Darius Leonard could be a perfect fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense. Leonard plays fast, smart and tough, drawing comparisons to Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith. He would see limited playing time as a rookie, but he could compete with Ben Gedeon for the weak-side linebacker spot.
Pick No. 94: Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State
Jamarco Jones has some issues against elite pass rushers, but does display all the traits needed to become a solid starter in the NFL. In his time at Ohio State, Jones was effective at both run and pass blocking.
With the Vikings, Jones may be able to start right away at guard or right tackle. He would also be playing alongside his college teammate, Pat Elflein. Regardless of which position he will play, Jones would provide depth to one of the league’s thinnest offensive lines.
The Minnesota Vikings’ priority in the 2018 NFL Draft is rebuilding their offensive line. Protecting new quarterback Kirk Cousins is vital to the Vikings’ Super Bowl chances. With the league’s best defense and a talented group of skill players on offense, the Vikings could be one offensive line away from being true contenders.
Enjoy the days of Draftmas here at The Game Haus! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the New England Patriots 2018 NFL Draft profile.