Vikings Now in Position to Draft Best Player Available

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the Minnesota Vikings during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Vikings have been utilizing free agency to the best of their ability, given the current salary cap environment. They have been making moves to fill holes all over their roster. These free agency moves have put the Vikings in a position to draft the best player available.

The most impactful move so far has to be the signing of Za’Darius Smith. The Vikings’ pass rush last year was downright pitiful after Danielle Hunter got hurt. Sure, they had a lot of sacks, thanks to great blitz designs by Zimmer. However, the actual edge rushers were not very good at all.

Having Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter on the outside will do several things for the defense. Most importantly, the pass rush, assuming both are healthy, will be significantly better. Then, having a better pass rush will take pressure off of the cornerback position. This is not even to mention how these two will be able to set the edge of the defense, which will improve the run defense.

Za'Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter
Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter

In a recent interview with Ian Rapaport by Gabe Henderson, Rapaport was asked which is more important, cornerback or pass rush for the Vikings. His answer: both of them are important and feed off each other.

Therefore, we can conclude that a better pass rush will help the pass defense. This should go without saying because the quicker the pass rush gets to the quarterback, the less time a cornerback is expected to cover.

While the Vikings certainly still could use cornerbacks, having addressed the pass rush will provide them a little more freedom. Perhaps enough freedom that they don’t feel that drafting a cornerback at 12 is a necessity.

Vikings Don’t Need to Draft a Cornerback at 12th Overall

Over the last couple of months, since the end of the season, it has seemed obvious that the Vikings were going to draft a cornerback. However, recent additions to the roster at cornerback and edge rusher have left this open for interpretation. It doesn’t feel like not drafting Ahmad Gardner or Derek Stingley is an absolute failure anymore.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah stated something similar in a recent interview with Gabe Henderson as well. He said that he is a planner and that no matter how complex a situation, as long as you have a plan, you can overcome it. In this, he was referencing the many roster needs of the Vikings.

Gotta Hear It: Vikings Quote of the Day -- February 26, 2022
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell

His point was that he never wants to be in a position where he is forced into a particular decision. He wants to have options open to him. It certainly appears that he has made enough roster moves to give himself options come draft time.

Sure, there are still higher priority needs, like a cornerback. However, the position group is not at a point anymore where it’s absolutely crucial to get one of the top 2 or 3 cornerbacks in the draft. Instead, he can take the best player available.

Some insiders, like Ian Rapaport, are firm believers that this is the best way to approach the draft anyway. The NFL Draft is not a time when you want to address needs. This is a time to get the best player available on your board, and if they happen to address a need too, then great.

This draft season, let’s not focus on what we need. Let’s get out there and draft the best player available. This could be a wide receiver, defensive tackle, cornerback, or whatever. Get that guy in the building and figure out how to use them later.

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