Peter King Has a Decent Power Ranking for Vikings — with a Caveat

Mock Draft Stuns
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If the Minnesota Vikings are to thrive in 2023, they’ll do so against their better angels on defense, according to some.

The club ranked near the bottom of the barrel on defense last season despite producing a 13-4 record in Kevin O’Connell’s inaugural season. The Vikings ranked 27th per defensive DVOA, 30th in points allowed, and 31st in yards allowed. Many wondered about the team’s ceiling if the marks merely ranked near the NFL’s middle, not the bottom.

Peter King Has a Decent Power Ranking for Vikings — with a Caveat

And with the 2023 regular season less than four months away, prominent personalities are raising the same issue again for Minnesota — is the defense improved? The offense will surely be melliferous, but will it be enough? One such inquirer was NBC Sports’ Peter King, who raised the matter of Minnesota’s defense Monday.

Peter King Has
Aug 17, 2022; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Sports reporter Peter King watches during joint practice between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

He wrote in his Football Morning in America column, “The league’s 31st-ranked defense has lost Dalvin Tomlinson, Eric Kendricks and Patrick Peterson already, and edge Za’Darius Smith badly wants out. The Vikings can score, but they can score consistently in the low thirties, which they may have to do to contend?”

King also placed the Vikings at No. 14 in the league’s post-draft power rankings, sandwiched between the Jacksonville Jaguars (13) and Los Angeles Chargers (15).

These Vikings Are Designed to Do Damage in the Playoffs
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on before the game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

King’s beef is valid for one reason — the Vikings 1st-Round draft choice. Indeed, Tomlinson, Kendricks, and Peterson left the organization, with Smith perhaps following suit after June 1st. Out-of-nowhere starting cornerback Duke Shelley also departed, joining the Las Vegas Raiders on a teensy deal. And with all the departures on defense, Minnesota could’ve drafted a defender with the 23rd overall pick on April 27th, for example, Deonte Banks (Giants) or Joey Porter Jr. (Steelers).

Instead, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah chose offensive decadence, drafting USC wide receiver Jordan Addison to pair with Justin Jefferson for the next 4-5 years. If Vikings fans needed a money-where-their-mouth-is moment defining the philosophical shift from Mike Zimmer to Kevin O’Connell — from defense to offense — it was the Addison pick.

Super Bowl Champ Has
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty-third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Should you, the Vikings fan, panic? Perhaps not. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell hired the top defensive coordinator candidate on the market — aside from arguably Vic Fangio — in February, so the defense is in good hands with a man owning a productive resume. Flores’ defenses rarely struggle, and he’ll inherit an already-suspect one in September, minus four or five veterans.

That’ll be the rallying cry for most of the summer — we’ve got Flores — from Vikings fans. Otherwise, the defensive roster is 2022-lite, banking on youth, speed, and affordability rather than experience.

Minnesota learns its 2023 schedule this Thursday when the NFL announces each team’s slate of games. Mandatory minicamp kicks off on June 13th.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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