Turns Out, the Vikings Aren’t Doomed.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The fan base of the Minnesota Vikings is generally pessimistic; perhaps the franchise’s history plays a prominent role. Entering the 2024 offseason, there are some reasons to have a negative outlook on the team’s future with Detroit and Green Bay seemingly emerging, their playoff success was a significant wakeup call for Vikings fans. In addition to that, Chicago has a rising defense and the first overall pick.

Turns Out, the Vikings Aren’t Doomed.

Turns Out, the Vikings Aren't Doomed
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Those things, combined with the uncertainty at the most important quarterback position and some defensive holes, lead to concerns about the future. However, it takes only one good draft. Finding a new quarterback or a couple of other difference-makers can quickly change an organization’s fortunes. The old saying that the NFL stands for Not For Long comes to mind.

In addition to that annual chance to acquire franchise-changing players in the draft, the Vikings already have an offense set on multiple crucial positions. Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon ranked the offensive building blocks for all 32 NFL teams, and Minnesota’s crew clocked in fourth. He only considered players under 26: “Looking only at developing players at or below the age of 25, and focusing primarily on 2023 production combined with trajectory, let’s compare every NFL offensive core in terms of building blocks in place entering the 2024 offseason.”

5 Vikings Rank
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Despite the mysterious identity of the passer, the purple team has a bunch of valuable assets. Gagnon agrees with that take:

It doesn’t get much more promising than Justin Jefferson (24) and Jordan Addison (22) at wide receiver, but then there’s also 24-year-old left tackle Christian Darrisaw. That’s a hell of a threesome in support of whoever quarterbacks the Vikes in 2024.

His list doesn’t even include tight end T.J. Hockenson (26), right tackle Brian O’Neill (28), and offensive-minded head coach Kevin O’Connell. The coach is 38 years old, younger than some starting quarterbacks.

Forced by Broncos
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

That core is the perfect framework to insert a young quarterback. Any rookie would be glad to join that offensive nucleus, and with the 11th overall pick, the Vikings might very well target one of the top passers in the draft. Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy has been a popular player in mock drafts, and trading up for one of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels has also been rumored.

Whoever the starting signal-caller is in 2024, that player has the luxury to throw to an impressive trio of pass-catchers once Hockenson returns from his knee surgery, hopefully without missing many games. The offensive line has made significant strides in 2023, led by the two fantastic tackles Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill.

Besides the quarterback spot, the Vikings should try adding another running back to prevent the offense from turning into a one-dimensional group again.

Flores Flourish
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Much more concerning is the defense. Those rankings wouldn’t be flattering. Danielle Hunter is set to enter free agency just like teammates Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum. That leaves Harrison Phillips as the only above-average player up front, with Ivan Pace behind him. Josh Metellus and Camryn Bynum are decent safeties, so even in the case of Harrison Smith’s retirement, the position is set. The cornerbacks are still young but inconsistent, excluding Byron Murphy. Spending draft capital and cap space on that side of the ball is clearly necessary.

While the roster has holes, it also has some reasons for optimism. A young quarterback could flourish in those surroundings, which is surely a good sign if GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pulls the trigger and selects Minnesota’s first quarterback in the top round since Teddy Bridgewater in 2014.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt