Vikings are having a rock solid offseason so far in 2021
By Ali Siddiqui
The Minnesota Vikings have made some great moves during the 2021 offseason to improve their roster.
After finishing last season with a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs for the fourth time since Mike Zimmer took over as the team’s head coach in 2014, the Minnesota Vikings needed to make some major changes to their roster this year.
So far this offseason, the Vikings have added veterans Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander, and Xavier Woods to a defense that struggled in 2020.
Minnesota still needs to improve their offensive line before next season though, especially after parting ways with left tackle Riley Reiff last month, who had an excellent performance in 2020. The Vikings also acquired Mason Cole in a trade this year, and he could possibly start for the team next season or just be used for depth.
Minnesota Vikings defense should be vastly improved in 2021
Even though Minnesota’s offensive line has been amongst the worst in the league since 2014, their offense was still very good last season. The Vikings ranked fourth in total yards last year and their 26.9 points per game average was the 11th best in the league.
Minnesota’s defense, on the other hand, was far from being good. They ranked 27th in yards allowed and their 29.7 points per game allowed was the fourth-most in the NFL last season.
In addition to adding free agents this year, the Vikings will also be getting Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce back after they both missed all of last season. Anthony Barr missed the final 14 games of 2020 and he is back on a restructured deal. All three will help tremendously, in addition to the return of Eric Kendricks, who missed the final five games of Minnesota’s 2020 season, which also proved to be a big loss.
Returning defensive end Stephen Weatherly should provide good depth on the defensive line. Maybe new linebacker Nick Vigil will be a good addition as the team’s third linebacker. Even if he is only average, it will really help.
If the unit can stay healthy for the most part in 2021, the Vikings have a great shot at having a top-10 defense, perhaps even top-five.
Given that Mike Zimmer is a defensive-minded head coach, it is no surprise that Minnesota has invested very highly in defense so far this year. Seeing it struggle mightily last season was not something he has been used to throughout his coaching career.
As for the Vikings offensive line, it will be very interesting to see what Rick Spielman and company do this year to improve the unit. Whether Ezra Cleveland stays at right guard or moves to left tackle will be something to keep an eye on.
Minnesota has reportedly shown interest in free-agent guard Forrest Lamp this year. Lamp has battled plenty of injuries since entering the league in 2017, but he did start all 16 games last season. They have also reportedly been one of the team’s to express interest in trading for offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who is currently a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Vikings could very well draft a tackle in the first round this year, whether it’s USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker (can play both tackle and guard), Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater (if he drops to pick No.14), or Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw.
Minnesota could also draft a defensive end in the first round like Michigan’s Kwity Paye or Miami’s Gregory Rousseau. Or maybe the Vikings will trade back in the first round to acquire a selection in the second round, which they currently do not have.
All in all, this has been a terrific offseason for the purple and gold. They still need to improve the offensive line (sounds like a broken record) even though the offense should be very good again next season, but they just cannot afford to let Kirk Cousins continue to take a lot of hits.
Yes, Cousins has proven to be very durable during his NFL career. But if he gets injured next season, it will put Minnesota in a terrible situation. So even having an average line will really help the Vikings in 2021.
6 safeties the Vikings could select in the 2021 NFL Draft
The Minnesota Vikings signed safety Xavier Woods in free agency but that should not deter them from adding another safety in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Last year, Minnesota had a great draft. If they can have another good one later this month, then the Vikings could go pretty far next season.