Draft Weekend Gives Vikings a Free Agent Path Forward

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings are set to inject some new talent onto the 90-man roster in pursuit of a stronger result this season. Their primary focus remains on locking down a new quarterback, but there are other needs as well. How many of those are handled through the draft will provide a path forward regarding remaining free agents.

Draft Weekend Gives Vikings a Free Agent Path Forward

While the Minnesota Vikings did sign Sam Darnold in free agency, he isn’t expected to be a long-term answer. Although things could work out for him in year one, it’s not going to stop Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell from drafting a rookie quarterback. How much draft capital Minnesota must use on that one position will determine what other difference-makers they can acquire, but players are still on the open market.

Dalton Risner
Minnesota Vikings guard Dalton Risner addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Dalton Risner: “We All Know We Have A Great Culture But We Came Up Short This Season.”

If the Vikings grab a quarterback in the first round, especially if they move up, they won’t have another pick until the fourth round. Expecting that player to step in and start immediately is relatively lofty, and it gets even dicier as the rounds go on. O’Connell still needs to address three key areas: cornerback, defensive line, and left guard.

While there were some reports that Dalton Risner may be returning to the Vikings, they have yet to come to fruition. Expecting Blake Brandel to move from the tackle position inside isn’t an ideal strategy, and drafting interior offensive linemen is something of a crapshoot. The Vikings finding a starting guard late during the weekend doesn’t seem like a good bet.

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports.

Should Minnesota hang onto either the 11th or 23rd selections, a cornerback could be had in the first round. If there’s a way for them to grab a quarterback that falls, then adding someone on the outside for the defense could make sense, too. Of course, Xavien Howard remains available, and he seems to check a lot of the boxes Brian Flores needs for his defense.

On the defensive line, the Vikings have searched for a difference-maker for quite some time. While Danielle Hunter was replaced with a pair of new edge rushers, an interior run stuffer is something that the roster doesn’t currently possess. That is a depot where Minnesota could use a first-round pick if they also deviate from the quarterback. There aren’t many options left on the open market, but Calais Campbell is available and has already spent a small portion of his career wearing purple.

Free Agent
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

With the draft taking over the focus for organizations in recent weeks, teams will get to turn their attention back to free agency once the dust settles. Allocating the remaining salary cap funds will be a much more straightforward process after the yearly addition of rookies plays out.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.