12 Juicy Vikings Storylines | Pre-Draft
The first wave of free agency is over, but the Minnesota Vikings offseason is just heating up.
Accordingly, oodles of questions remain about the team’s roster construction and will be pondered for the next six weeks until the 2023 NFL Draft.
12 Juicy Vikings Storylines | Pre-Draft
These are the 12 big pre-draft Vikings storylines to monitor, ranked in ascending order of importance.
12. Where Do the “Other Guys” Land?
This doesn’t have any bearing on the Vikings organization but will quench fans’ curiosity. Where does Adam Thielen sign? What about Irv Smith? If Minnesota lets Duke Shelley walk — more on that later — which team will reap the benefit?
This is primarily a Thielen item because he’s No. 1 in folks’ hearts, but let’s kick back and see where “the others” land.
11. Is Rookie Interior OL Help on the Way?
The Vikings will have total offensive line continuity for the first time in over a decade. It’s glorious.
However, the guts of the line — Garrett Bradbury and Ed Ingram — certainly aren’t Pro Bowler-caliber. Sometimes those guts stink. Will Adofo-Mensah draft a guard or center in the mid-rounds of the draft to play it safe in case Bradbury or Ingram flounder? Quality guards and centers can be plucked outside Round 1, so this is one to watch.
10. Will a Rookie Kicker Challenge Greg Joseph?
Joseph re-signed with the Vikings last week for guaranteed money, but the contract is tiny. Should the front office want to flirt with the idea of a competition kicker — like Gabe Brkic for a few days in 2022 — it’s assuredly feasible.
Or — do they just let it ride with Joseph, hoping he exorcises his extra-point demons?
9. Is Khyiris Tonga the New Nose Tackle?
The answer here is likely yes, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for Adofo-Mensah to upgrade Tonga’s spot in free agency or the draft. Tonga feels like the apparent starting NT, but is that a done deal?
8. C.J. Ham Just Stays Put?
Ham is an expensive fullback, and teams hardly use fullbacks in the modern NFL. In addition, he was utilized on offensive snaps 15% of the time last year in Kevin O’Connell’s maiden voyage.
Do the Vikings just pay $3.8 million to a seldom-used fullback for special teams and locker room leadership purposes?
7. Do the Vikings Believe K.J. Osborn Is a WR2?
If we knew the answer to this badboy, predicting the Vikings offseason plans would be a lot easier. Osborn has shown great skill in flashes; for example, the greatest comeback in NFL history when Minnesota upended the Indianapolis Colts.
But is he ready to be an every-game WR2? If not, the Vikings will be signing D.J. Chark or Odell Beckham — or exploring the draft’s early rounds for Adam Thielen’s replacement.
6. When Do the Big Extensions Hit?
Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Danielle Hunter — they’re all on tap for big paydays.
How long after free agency or the draft does it take to put pen to paper? Or are these big-ticket items put to bed before the draft?
5. A Duke Shelley Verdict?
A lot of men and women love Duke Shelley. Do none of them work at Vikings headquarters in Eagan?
This category could’ve also been titled What’s the Vikings final step to solidify the CB room?
Re-signing Duke Shelley would put a bow on the cornerback room, with high hopes that Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans bust out this summer. Patrick Peterson went to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Booth, Evans, and newly-acquired Byron Murphy are the team’s possibly- startable cornerbacks as of March 18th.
They need at least one more. You know, like Duke Shelley.
4. Is WR the First Pick of the Draft?
In the event the Vikings don’t peg K.J. Osborn for WR2 duty and don’t sign Odell Beckham or D.J. Chark, they must use one of the first two draft picks in late April on a wide receiver.
Will it be Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston, Jalin Hyatt, Nathaniel Dell, or other?
3. Are Dalvin Cook and Za’Darius Smith Traded?
The most prudent one — Cook and Smith seem on the cusp of getting traded. When Alexander Mattison was re-signed late last week, that probably ended the Dalvin Cook era in Minnesota.
Then, Smith flat-out said goodbye to Minnesota and Minnesotans 11 days ago on Twitter. Will they both depart via trade? If so, what is the compensation, and from which team?
2. Does Adofo-Mensah Land One More ‘Big Name’ in Free Agency?
Last year, Adof0-Mensah’s splashiest free-agent addition occurred during Week 2 of free agency. That was Za’Darius Smith. Does he pull another rabbit out of a hat during his second year on the job?
Odell Beckham, D.J. Chark, and a handful of other “big names” are unsigned. If the Vikings start to clear cap space on a random weekday, know that you’ve seen this move before when Za’Darius Smith was welcomed 12 months ago.
1. If the Vikings Draft a Rookie QB, Who Is It?
If you’re the kind of Vikings fan who soaks up Vikings-related news daily, this question should utterly engulf your soul for the next six weeks.
Minnesota finally has one chance to replicate the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs or the always-Green-Bay-Packers via drafting a quarterback as a luxury. The Chiefs did it with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes six years ago. The Packers did it in 2005.
Cousins will be back this autumn to throw his automatic 4,000 passing yards and 30+ touchdowns. But the difference this year is that he has no guaranteed time left on his deal after 2023.
Now is the time to draft a quarterback, let him cook on the bench for one season, and let her rip. But who will it be?
Another Packer Defects to Vikings
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).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.
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