We’re about two and a half weeks away from the start of Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings, which means that previews are going to start coming out in full force here before too much longer. I’ve got a couple of preview magazines. . .you remember magazines, right. . .sitting here that I’ve yet to go over and will be sharing tidbits from here in the future, but for this post we’re looking at an evaluation from Pro Football Focus.
Sam Monson has gone through each NFC team and identified their biggest strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to the Vikings, neither of them should be a big surprise to anyone paying attention.
The team’s biggest strength is its wide receiver corps, led by the dynamic duo of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
Justin Jefferson may already be the game’s best receiver and now expects to be featured in an offense that is far less run-focused than his first two years in the league. Only Davante Adams and Deebo Samuel have gained more yards per route run than Jefferson since he entered the NFL. Adam Thielen is one of the best receivers in the league against press coverage thanks to his releases off the line and route running. K.J. Osborn quietly emerged as a nice third receiver for this offense last year.
We know about the strength at the top of the depth chart for the Vikings at wide receiver, but the battle beyond those three spots looks to be one of the more intriguing ones of Training Camp. Ihmir Smith-Marsette came on a bit at the end of last season, and he’s going to have to hold off players like the returning Bisi Johnson, free agent signee Albert Wilson, and sixth-round pick Jalen Nailor. With the Vikings likely making more use of their wide receivers this year in Kevin O’Connell’s new offense, those spots are going to become very important.
The biggest weakness? Same as it’s been for the last decade or so. . .the offensive line. Specifically the interior, because it appears that the Vikings have finally gotten it right at the tackle spots with Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill.
Minnesota’s offensive line has had a lot of work and the tackles now look to be in a good place, but the interior still looks like a weakness on paper. Ezra Cleveland has been solid as a run blocker at guard but has yet to finish a season with a PFF pass-blocking grade above 55.5, while Garrett Bradbury has averaged 27 pressures and almost seven penalties a season at center. Right guard has been a revolving door in recent seasons and is still there to be won by anybody showing quality play.
Sure, there might be some reasons for optimism, such as potential upgrades at the right guard spot with another interesting competition brewing. However, we see lots of reasons for optimism along the offensive line every year, seemingly, and the promise never seems to materialize. Hopefully someone will emerge to provide solid play at right guard, Cleveland will continue to develop at left guard, and Bradbury will become what the Vikings thought he could be when they drafted him in 2019.
Or maybe the Vikings sign J.C. Tretter to play center, like pretty much everyone on the internet has been speculating they might since. . .I don’t know, March or so.
Do you agree with the biggest strengths and weaknesses on the Vikings’ roster as determined by Pro Football Focus?