The Minnesota Vikings still have a lot of question marks on their roster
Last season, the Minnesota Vikings finished second in the division with a 10-6 record and advanced to the divisional round in the playoffs. The Vikings are mostly bringing all their main contributors back from last season but they did lose Stefon Diggs however. Replacing his production will be very tough. Maybe someday Justin Jefferson could be as good as Diggs or perhaps better, but chances of that happening this season are very unlikely.
Only time will tell what kind of a player Jefferson will be, along with the rest of the rookie class. Last year’s rookie class did well and perhaps this year’s class could very well do the same. This year, the Vikings drafted 15 players. If even five of them pan out, it will be very huge for this team both this season and for years to come.
Garrett Bradbury, Irv Smith Jr., and Alexander Mattison contributed nicely last season as rookies. All should continue to improve barring injuries. In free agency the Vikings added defensive tackle Michael Pierce to replace Linval Joseph.
There will be a ton of new players in 2020 for the Minnesota Vikings
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Joseph was a very good player during his six seasons in Minnesota but took a step back last season. At this point, Pierce is an upgrade over him. Starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (released) and Trae Waynes (free agency) were not brought back, which was no surprise. Rhodes struggled mightily last season and Waynes was too pricey.
Waynes has been a good player since entering the league in 2015 but did not have a very good year last season.
First-round pick Jeff Gladney could very well end up as the starting cornerback from day one. He may not be an upgrade this season from what Waynes was last season, but should not be a downgrade from Rhodes last season.
Rhodes was one of the best corners in the league three years ago, but last season he was one of the worst. Mike Hughes has shown some flashes but has had trouble staying healthy. His health will be among the keys to Minnesota having a better season.
Holton Hill is very talented too, but can he stay out of trouble? Vikings could also add a veteran corner too. It would not be a surprise if they go after Dre Kirkpatrick who Mike Zimmer was with during the 2013 season in Cincinnati.
One thing is for certain. You can never have too many cornerbacks, especially when you are in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. If they also do not feel that Gladney is ready right away, they could bring him along slowly as they did with Waynes during his rookie season.
Defensive end Everson Griffen was not brought back, but is still un-signed and could perhaps be back, along with guard Josh Kline. There has been speculation that Griffen and Kline could possibly return.
The offensive line will once again be the biggest question mark. It will not be a surprise if they sign anyone, whether it’s Kline or someone else. Perhaps both. Left guard Pat Elflein was without a doubt the weakest link on the unit. He could very well be cut or be a backup. They could move Riley Reiff at that spot.
Bottom line, they really need to upgrade that spot. Ezra Cleveland could be the long-term answer at left tackle. Bradbury (center) and Brian O’Neill (right tackle) are very good pieces to build with going forward. Who the guards will be still remains to be seen.
On paper, this team may look like they will take a step backward. They possibly could, but they could also be just as good or perhaps better. Staying healthy as always will be one of the keys, but the play of the rookies could also help them take the next step forward. How much the second-year players improve too will be a big key too.