The Minnesota Vikings have made some splashes this offseason so far.
All of their free agent signings were on the defensive side of the ball. They signed defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Xavier Woods. They also signed linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Both will help too, but more than likely they will not make as much of an impact as the other three.
Tomlinson, Peterson and Woods will all be starters and will have a big impact on this team in 2021 barring injuries, but the question is, who will have the biggest impact?
You can make a great case for Peterson. Even though he is no longer the player he once was, he will still help the Vikings a lot with his play and mentorship towards the cornerbacks, especially second year guys Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney (if he is back with the team). The Vikings playing much more zone defense vs the Arizona Cardinals should help as well.
Tomlinson should have the biggest impact. The defensive line last season without Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce struggled mightily to say the least. Tomlinson is known more for his run-stopping ability, but he is not a bad pass-rusher either (3.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons). He will not only help them stop the run and rush the passer, but his presence alone will open things up for the others on the defense.
Eric Kendricks played very well once again last season and this was with Shamar Stephen and Jaleel Johnson playing in front of him. They will be replaced by both Tomlinson and Pierce. Both should compliment each other well, even though they have similarities.
It is unknown who will be the other starting defensive end opposite Hunter, but whoever it will be (could be a rookie, D.J. Wonnum or a free agent signee) will certainly benefit from having the former New York Giant.
Woods could have the second biggest impact behind Tomlinson. He may not be as good as Anthony Harris was in 2019, but should be better than Harris was in 2020.
If this unit can mostly stay healthy, they have a great chance of being a top-10 defense or perhaps even top-five. Having Hunter, Pierce and Anthony Barr back will also help tremendously. The three combined only appeared in a total of two games. Their presence was certainly missed.
Given that Mike Zimmer is a defensive coach, it is no shock that they have invested so highly in the defense. They were also ranked 27th overall in the league and their 29.7 points per game allowed was 29th.
Zimmer certainly is not used to having struggling defenses.
Overall this team has had a very good offseason. Adding Keenan McCardell and Karl Scott to the coaching staff were great moves too, but work still remains to be done on the offensive line (yes, fans have certainly become very tired of saying and hearing that). They traded for Mason Cole, who could perhaps be a starter or just be used for depth, but either way they need to upgrade it.
It will be very interesting to see what Rick Spielman and company do both during and after the draft, but overall this team has made some great moves and the offseason is not close to being over. In addition to the draft, surprise cuts can happen later too.