Welcome to the second installment of our five-post series of questions with the folks from Football Outsiders about the 2022 Minnesota Vikings in celebration of the release of this year’s version of the Football Outsiders Almanac (available in both digital and print versions).
Our questions for this year went to Derrik Klassen, who you can find on the Twitter machine @QBKlass. He wrote the chapter on the Vikings for this year’s Almanac, so he took the time to answer the five queries I posed for this year’s squad. Today’s question has to do with the Vikings’ current roster construction.
In your opinion, what are the biggest strengths and weaknesses on this year’s Vikings’ roster?
For one, the offensive line still needs to take a step forward. I’m a little more worried about the pass-rushing depth, though. Hunter and Smith are both coming off injuries, and nothing behind them suffices as a good No.3 or quality spot starter. If one of the starters gets hurt or isn’t in top form, this pass-rush could deteriorate in a hurry.
We know that the offensive line has been a sore spot for a very long time, though it appears that it’s been getting incrementally better in recent years. This is a make-it-or-break-it year for Garrett Bradbury, so we’ll see if he responds. At least the tackle situation seems to be solidified.
I think he’s got a point about the pass rush, though. I know the Vikings had good sack numbers last year even with Danielle Hunter missing a lot of time and Everson Griffen being out at the end of the year and so forth. If Hunter and Za’Darius Smith can both stay healthy, the pass rush is going to be dangerous, but Derrik is right about the depth if someone can’t step up behind those top two guys. Perhaps this is where Chris Rumph will have the impact that Derrik thinks he can during this offseason.
Derrik didn’t really address the “strengths” portion of the question, but I think we all know where it lies until proven differently. The wide receiver group is one of the best in the NFL, led by Justin Jefferson. Adam Thielen is (hopefully) fully recovered from his high ankle sprain at the end of the last year and can get back to being a great #2 option, and the bottom of the depth chart is filled with solid talent as well.
The running back depth chart is pretty solid as well. We know about Dalvin Cook, and Alexander Mattison is a solid second back even if he didn’t have quite as good a year in 2021 as he had his first two seasons. Kene Nwangwu might be poised to get on the field more often after injuries derailed the start of his rookie season, and fifth-round pick Ty Chandler could be worth keeping an eye on as well.
Our last question is coming tomorrow, folks. We hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far!