Which needs to address in FA vs the draft?

At this point the Vikings are 5-5. I'll give them credit, based on how things looked before the bye week I was assuming that the Chargers and Packers games were going to be losses, along with Baltimore. I was fully expecting to be 3-7 at this point in the season with a new head coaching search underway.

I was originally planning to write a piece discussing who we should draft if we got a top 10 pick. However, here we are at 5-5. The Lions, Steelers, and Bears are all looking pretty beatable. We'll probably still go 1-1 with the Bears because that appears to be an unwritten rule the past few years. Rams and at Packers are two really tough games. My revised prediction is that we go 9-8 and probably still just miss the playoffs.

Now, to the point of this article. 9-8 likely leaves us picking fairly close to our current projection at pick number 20. I think there are three fairly obvious needs to improve this team:

  • Cornerback
  • DE
  • IOL (most likely center)
  • Linebacker is also a major need, but probably not top 3

For CB: All 3 of our current starting corners are 1 year rentals. Peterson has been consistently OK, but not stellar. Breeland has been the worst defensive player in the league for the first part of the year and above average for the other part. Alexander has been consistently bad. He's now the second worst graded corner in the league. Dantzler has looked decent when he's been in, but it seems he has some attitude issues. Boyd and Hand haven't really been able to crack the roster. Mike Hughes (who we traded for peanuts) is currently a top 20 corner in the league and would comfortably be our highest graded corner on the team. So it's pretty clear CB is a dire need.

For DE: Hunter has been stellar, but has now had back to back season ending injuries. That's concerning. They are unrelated injuries, but even still, we are paying the man millions to sit on the sidelines. He carries a 26M cap hit next year. After Hunter, we have Griffen who has been good but probably shouldn't be playing football with his mental health issues. Richardson has been decent and improved throughout the season. He may be worth re-signing. Willekes has looked good with his opportunities, and I would argue he should perhaps supplant Wonnum on the depth chart. Wonnum just hasn't put it together. He's got a lot of the physical tools, but he's bad in setting the edge against the run and he's only managed a single sack despite having the most snaps of all our DEs. Jones is apparently so bad that a waiver wire pickup can get the same number of snaps the week they are picked up. I very much disliked the pick during the draft and it looks like we vastly overdrafted him. Robinson has a lot of the physical tools we are looking for and hopefully he's been able to get in some solid work in practice on his IR year and can break into the rotation next year. In other words, DE is also a big need, especially if we entertain the idea of someone trading for Hunter.

For OL: Ah, the joy of being a Vikings fan. Can we please have a good OL for once? It's been roughly a decade since we had an offensive line of any note. Center is clearly a problem, and Cleveland/ Udoh have barely been serviceable as guards. Granted, serviceable is still a significant step up from Dozier/ Samia, but they are still only both rated in roughly the bottom third of guards in the league. Bradbury and Cole are clearly not cut out to be starting caliber centers. They are actually the two worst rated pass blocking centers in the entire league.

Now for the draft talent. There are 6 CBs with a first round grade per PFF, and 3-4 per ESPN. PFF has 7 DE's with a top 33 grade, and ESPN has 6 projected first round DEs. Both PFF and ESPN only have Linderbaum as a first round talent at center.

I think for value, we can write off center. Maybe we try Davis at it, maybe we look for a free agent, or maybe we adress it later in the draft. I don't see Linderbaum lasting until the 20th pick, and I don't see this management using a first round pick on center when our next two needs cost a premium in free agency. Notable free agents - Ryan Jensen, Tampa.

For me the first pick is between corner and DE. It looks like a phenomenal DE class, and a pretty good DB class. There is elite talent at both positions that's going to go in the top 10 of the class, then a fairly significant fall off.

Notable free agent corners: Gilmore, Carlton Davis (Tampa), JC Jackson (NE), Marshon Lattimore (NO), Darious Williams (LAR), Donte Jackson (CAR), Casey Hayward (LVR), Steven Nelson (PHI).

Notable DE free agents: Chandler Jones, Von Miller, Jadaveon Clowney, Randy Gregory, Harold Landry, Haason Reddick, Jerry Hughes, Jason Pierre-Paul.

We aren't going to have the cap space to go out and sign the premiere talent at either position (so Gilmore, Davis, Jones, Miller, Gregory, etc., are likely off the table), but we would have enough cap space to take a shot at some of the aging or slightly less talented guys. Clowney, JPP, Hayward, and Jackson come to mind as realistic options.

Up until now I've been saying that CB is basically a lock for the first round pick, and I do still lean that way. I think we would have a shot at the 3rd or 4th CB off the board. So maybe Booth, McCreary, McDuffie, mayyyyybe Gardner/ Elam. I think our options at DE would be 4th-6th off the board, like Enagbare, Ojabo, Jackson.

If I'm the GM I'm trying to bring in Clowney or JPP or Hayward and drafting a corner in the first as well, unless an elite DE drops then I'd grab them and pray there's a decent corner in the second round as well.

What do you think we target in FA vs the draft? DE or CB round 1?

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.