Andy: Left Guard
Charlie Johnson wasn’t retained (for good reason), and last year’s fifth-round pick David Yankey is a wildcard; we have no idea where he’ll be at in 2015 since he was basically given a redshirt season. I like Brandon Scherff and La’el Collins as far as the top-tier guys, with Laken Tomlinson and Ali Marpet in the second-third round area. Cornerback is also a position of need, but I feel this Draft is pretty deep at that position. Lock up the most glaring need with elite talent first (if the board breaks right), and worry about cornerback later–especially since guard is seen as top heavy and not deep this year.
Assuming they don’t trade Peterson, I would say linebacker. The presumed starter outside (Chad Greenway) is long past his prime, and he’s set to start, according to both himself and Zimmer, over any viable alternatives—which tells me the coaches are not that keen on Gerald Hodges despite his performance. In the middle, the Vikings let Jasper Brinkley walk and even though Audie Cole was fine at the end of the season, he still doesn’t seem like a starting linebacker to me. Even if I’m wrong on one of them, I could be right on the other, so the Vikings may need to draft a linebacker just to play the odds. At receiver, Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson are set to start, which feels better than Greenway/Cole to me, especially because the depth at receiver is better than at linebacker. Ditto for safety.
Carl: Fix the Running Back Situation
After inheriting a five-win team that surrendered the most points in the NFL in 2013, Mike Zimmer went to work vowing to fix the defense. In 2014, the defense allowed nine fewer points per game, top pick Anthony Barr, re-signed DE Everson Griffen, former first round picks Xavier Rhodes, Sharriff Floyd and Harrison Smith formed the new nucleus of a tough, ascending defense. Cornerback, linebacker and safety are the few positions still in need of an upgrade. But is another first round defender the top priority?
My answer is no! Teddy needs more talent around him. Too many major question marks right now at running back, wide receiver and along the offensive line for me to look defense first. If Todd Gurley, DeVante Parker or Brandon Scherff are still on the board, one of those players must absolutely be the top pick. If the Vikings keep trying to sweep the offensive short comings and question marks under the rug, this season might turn into a train wreck.
The Adrian Peterson situation needs fixed. The sooner the better!
Brent: Offensive Line
You could argue that Zimmer could do more with a top middle linebacker, but I’m fairly confident that Chad Greenway will be a 3 down linebacker in ’15. Knowing how often Anthony Barr stayed in the game on 3rd down, picking a top linebacker would be investing a high draft pick on a player who would leave the field on nickel situations. Keep Teddy healthy and upright by making your offensive line a priority.
Adam: Strong Safety, Left Guard, Inside Linebacker
I think the perceived “needs” comes down to three positions in terms of needing an upgrade at starter: Strong Safety, Left Guard, and Inside Linebacker. I think there are some rotational options at linebacker and Audie Cole hasn’t shown me he can’t be a solution, that’s for sure. Strong safety didn’t get any worse this offseason and, while I’d love to see an upgrade, a combination of Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo could be tolerable for another season. That leaves left guard where I see no viable options on the current roster. I think this spot is the weakest link on the entire depth chart and would love to see the Vikings make yet another large investment into their offensive line.
Lindsey: Offensive Line
The entire line needs to be strengthened in my opinion, and that probably starts with left guard. Teddy Bridgewater showed a huge amount of talent last season as a rookie, and I expect him to have a big year, but he went from never been sacked at Louisville to being leveled time and time again as a pro. The bottom line is that the QB needs better protection. Protect the QB, and you’ll get better results out of both your receivers and your running backs. I would still love the see the Vikes pick up Brandon Scherff in the first round.
Guest of the Week
Michael Rand, The Star Tribune: Offensive Line
I think the primary position of need the Vikings need to address is offensive line. The concern with playing Bridgewater last season, in the minds of some, started with the idea that he would take a physical pounding because of weaknesses along the line. Injuries didn’t help, but it’s also clear this team can upgrade at guard and tackle — or at the very least add more depth there to create competition. I’m convinced they come out of the first round with an O-lineman or pass rusher. Frankly, I hope it’s the former.