Areas the Vikings Roster Can Still Improve on Post Draft 

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Kevin O'Connell

The 2022 NFL draft is in the books, and the Minnesota Vikings added 10 rookies to the roster. An extra nine undrafted free agents have also been signed to compete in training camp.

Now that the draft is over, I want to look at the areas the Vikings roster can still improve. There are plenty of differing opinions on the draft. Personally, I approved the event for Minnesota.

Andrew Booth Jr was my guy, and I said pre-draft that I’d be happy with him at 12. Picking him up in the second round to follow Lewis Cine in the first, as well as a developmental corner Akayleb Evans, was a massive boost to the Vikings secondary — the undoubted biggest area of concern on the team. A second-round guard was added for the interior offensive line battle, which should be a highlight of training camp and preseason. And Brian Asamoah added strength to the inside linebacker position, which now looks good.

I thought the Vikings might add a tight end earlier than Nick Muse in the seventh round. Head coach Kevin O’Connell talked of new signing Johnny Mundt’s untapped playmaking ability while he was in Los Angeles. He must have a lot of faith in him as the TE2. Ty Chandler and Jalen Nailor are players that add depth to the running back and wide receivers positions with significant upside. Both can make the roster in Year 1 and build into more significant roles.

Areas the Vikings Roster Can Improve on Defense

Two areas I expected the Vikings to look at in the draft seriously were outside linebacker and a pass-rushing defensive tackle. The starting defensive line for the Minnesota Vikings right now consists of Dalvin Tomlinson, Harrison Phillips, and Armon Watts. You can almost put all three of them in any of the three positions: nose tackle, defensive tackle, and defensive end. On early downs, that’s fine. There is enough pass rush. When it’s time to pin your ears back and just go get the quarterback, the Vikings will need something else.

Dec 28, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive lineman Esezi Otomewo. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota addressed this area in the draft by drafting Esezi Otomewo, who stays in Minnesota after four years as a Golden Gopher. He played on the edge with Boye Mafe in college, and it was Mafe who rightly got all of the buzz going into the draft. Otomewo can play, though, and a kick inside as the defensive end of the front three could be perfect for him.

The Vikings also have Jaylen Twyman returning after he missed his rookie season in unfortunate circumstances. Both have the potential to be long-term solutions, but the Vikings need some for the now — either an upgrade on Armon Watts, like Akiem Hicks, or a quality depth piece who can compete to start. A return for Sheldon Richardson or Larry Ogunjobi could be options.

Where Are the OLBs?

The position that wasn’t addressed at all in the draft was outside linebacker, which surprised me.

New signee Za’Darius Smith is the only genuine OLB on the roster. Danielle Hunter will start opposite him. I think Hunter’s position will be more versatile than just outside linebacker. They may mix up whether he starts with his hand on the ground (defensive end) or stood up (outside linebacker). There are some promising young players waiting in the wings like D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones, Janarius Robinson, and Kenny Willekes. The question marks are that these are all players drafted to play as defensive end in a 4-3 front.

D.J. Wonnum might suit a switch to linebacker. Janarius Robinson has the traits for the position, but if Za’Darius Smith picked up an injury, are they ready to step in? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out, but I would be more comfortable if Minnesota had some depth with experience in the position.

Perhaps the Vikings coaching have seen enough in Wonnum, Robinson, Jones, and Willekes to not be concerned.

Areas Vikings Roster Can Improve on Offense

This one is pretty simple. Some people wanted another star wide receiver in the draft. Personally, I am content with what we have. We are stacked at running back, set at offensive tackle, and have so many guards on the roster now. Surely at least one will prove a serviceable partner for Ezra Cleveland? I had hoped for a dynamic tight end in the draft. The Vikings selected Nick Muse to compete for the third tight end spot on the roster.

Nick Muse
Image from @nick__muse on Instagram.

When it comes to areas, the Vikings roster can improve. The first position that comes to mind for most people is probably center. The Vikings declined to pick up the 5th year option on 2018 1st round pick Garrett Bradbury’s contract — to the surprise of absolutely nobody. With JC Tretter still a free agent, Vikings fans can be forgiven for thinking “what if?” Tretter would certainly be an upgrade on Bradbury.

What to Do at Center?

There are two reasons the Vikings haven’t already made this move. First, there are injury concerns with Tretter. It has been reported that Tretter didn’t practice at all last season for the Cleveland Browns due to knee and ankle problems. He would play on Sunday and then spend the next week getting patched up to go again the following Sunday. That has to be a concern for a team when offering a new contract.

Despite those issues, Tretter used all his experience to still have a good season. His Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 83.7 is the stuff of dreams for Vikings fans. In comparison, Garrett Bradbury scored 43.7.

The second issue is Bradbury’s contract which is $4 million fully guaranteed. Cutting him isn’t feasible as the Vikings don’t have the cap space to eat up that amount of money. Trading him away seems unlikely especially with Tretter still available.

Can the Vikings make room for Tretter and Bradbury to be on the roster? It’s not impossible, but I think it’s unlikely. A prove it year for Garrett Bradbury seems more likely, with the position being readdressed next season. 

There are still areas the Vikings roster can improve. However, there are not as many holes as before the draft. Other than possibly center, there are no major areas of concern. I think Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did an astute job in his first draft as general manager of the Vikings.