Do not be shocked if the Vikings draft a defensive tackle with their first pick

Aug 28, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer prepares for the game with the San Diego Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer prepares for the game with the San Diego Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

While some of the Minnesota Vikings’ needs may be more glaring, fixing their run defense may be the team’s highest priority.

Like everything else during the Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 season, the team’s run defense was one of the NFL’s best during the first five weeks. But in the five games that followed their bye week, the Vikings’ defense allowed an average of 119 yards on the ground to the opposing running backs.

Minnesota lost four of those five games and not being able to stop the run had a lot to do with it. The Vikings finished 2016 with the league’s 20th ranked rushing defense. Nine of the 12 teams to make the playoffs last season allowed less rushing yards per game than Minnesota.

Stopping the run has actually been one of the Vikings’ biggest weaknesses on defense since Mike Zimmer was hired in 2014. In Zimmer’s first season, Minnesota finished the year with the NFL’s 25th ranked run defense and in 2015 they boosted that ranking to 17th.

Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

So what are the Vikings going to do to fix this problem of theirs?

Well for starters, they signed a talented defensive lineman in Datone Jones this offseason. Jones does well at stopping the run and was a part of a Green Bay Packers defense that was the eighth best against the run in 2016.

Unfortunately Minnesota’s defensive line received some bad news this offseason as well. A little over a week ago, a report came out that the career of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd may be in jeopardy due to his knee not healing correctly after surgery.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings /

Minnesota Vikings

Currently on the Vikings’ defensive line, their group of defensive tackles consists of Floyd, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen and Toby Johnson. Joseph’s starting spot is set in stone for 2017, but the trick for Minnesota will be in finding another capable defensive tackle to line up next to him.

Stephen and Johnson saw a lot of time on the field last season with Floyd out of action with his injury. But neither really made a difference on the field when it came to stopping the opposing team’s rushing attack.

When Zimmer was hired in 2014, he was brought in to fix a horrible defensive unit and for the most part he has been able to do that. But Minnesota having a good run defense has been the one thing that Zimmer has not been able to work his defensive-guru magic on.

With the crop of offensive linemen in this year’s draft class not being too impressive, it is going to be very hard for someone in the Vikings’ front office to convince Zimmer that they should choose offense over defense with their first pick.

Would you want to be the guy to tell Mike Zimmer no?

Next: 10 worst Vikings draft picks during the Spielman era

There are a number of talented defensive tackles in the 2017 draft class that should be available when Minnesota is on the clock with the 48th overall selection including Alabama’s Dalvin Tomlinson, Auburn’s Montravius Adams and UNC-Charlotte’s Larry Ogunjobi.

Will the Vikings pull the trigger if one of these three are still available in the second round?