We’re just a couple of weeks away from the 2022 NFL Draft, and the bulk of the free agency period is pretty much over and done with. So, what are the major needs for the Minnesota Vikings as we head into this year’s selection meeting?
Well, after a look at the current roster, here are the spots on the Vikings’ roster that I feel need the most assistance. As always, your mileage may vary.
1) Cornerback - Yes, we’re all happy that Patrick Peterson is back for another season with the Vikings. At least, I think we’re all happy that he’s back. I’m happy that he’s back, in any case. But the depth chart behind him at cornerback is pretty thin. Newly-signed Chandon Sullivan appears to be more of a slot cornerback, while Cameron Dantzler, Kris Boyd, and Harrison Hand are the incumbents at the position on the current roster. It doesn't look like Mackensie Alexander is going to be back next season, which is fine because. . .well, he was awful last season.
All of this points to the cornerback position continuing to be the primary need for the Vikings as we get closer to the draft. Our annual Mock Draft Database seems to reflect this, as the overwhelming majority of draft experts see the Vikings taking a cornerback when the 12th overall pick comes up in a couple of weeks. If that happens, they’ll have to be ready to step in and contribute immediately.
2) Edge defender - The Vikings might have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league on the edge in Danielle Hunter and the newly-signed Za’Darius Smith. . .if those two can remain healthy. Hunter has played in just six full games over the past two seasons and Smith is coming off of a season that saw him play just one game. If the two of them should have to continue to battle injuries. . .and, frankly, even if they stay healthy. . .the Vikings need more and better depth on the edges on defense. I’m not sure if their first-round pick needs to be used at the position, particularly given the already-documented need at corner, but they should probably take one early.
3) Tight end - Speaking of scary depth charts. . .have you looked at the Vikings’ depth chart at tight end? Behind Irv Smith Jr., who is coming off of a season in which he didn’t play due to injury, there’s just about nothing to be had there. Here’s what it looks like:
- Johnny Mundt, he of the 10 catches in five NFL seasons
- Zach Davidson, who couldn’t get off the practice squad last year
- Ben Ellefson, who spent most of last year on injured reserve
With Tyler Conklin moving on to greener pastures with the New York Jets, the Vikings need a serious second option at the tight end spot. It can’t be another player like Davidson who they’ve stashed on the practice squad for a year to develop or Chris Herndon who. . .actually, I don’t know what exactly Herndon did last season. They need someone that can step in right away in case Smith isn’t quite back to 100% yet.
4) Interior offensive line - The Vikings have done at least a few things to address the interior this offseason, including signing veterans like Jesse Davis and Chris Reed. Reed might be the best under-the-radar signing they’ve made this year, but the team still needs more help on the interior. Garrett Bradbury has continued to struggle on the interior and is likely in his last season in purple, barring something miraculous. The Vikings still, at the very least, need to add more people to increase the competition level on the interior of the offensive line in order to give them the best five possible up front going into the season.
5) Linebacker - Eric Kendricks is good, but last season wasn’t the best he’s put together in purple. The Vikings also brought in Jordan Hicks to work with Kendricks on the interior, but they’ve also lost players like Anthony Barr and Nick Vigil this offseason and some of the other options that are currently on the roster don’t inspire a lot of confidence. Neither Kendricks nor Hicks are getting any younger, either, so the team needs to bring someone in to provide quality depth and contribute on special teams as well.
Those are the Vikings’ biggest needs heading into the 2022 NFL Draft from my perspective. Do I have things a bit out of order here? Are there significant needs that I’ve missed? Feel free to talk about it in the comments below.