Following a 10-6 season in 2019 including a postseason win at New Orleans, the Minnesota Vikings slumped to a 7-9 finish this fall. The Vikings decided to stick with head coach Mike Zimmer, despite coming off their worst season under the seven-year head coach and have aggressively approached the offseason in an effort to rebuild towards the playoffs.
The Vikings had one of the busiest free agency periods amongst NFL franchises, beginning with their decision to cut former starting left tackle, Riley Reiff. Reiff’s release cleared over $11 million in cap space, allowing the Minnesota Vikings to target several veteran free agents at positions of need prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Vikings improved their secondary with the additions of All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson and resigned former Viking corner, Mackensie Alexander. The addition of the veteran cornerbacks will be a significant point of attention entering the 2021 NFL Draft following the recent assault charges of 2020 first-round cornerback selection, Jeff Gladney. Gladney’s legal proceedings will significantly impact the Vikings’ approach to the Draft, after Gladney and fellow rookie Cameron Dantzler led the team in snaps at the position.
In addition to adding veterans at corner, the Minnesota Vikings looked to further address one of the worst defenses in the NFL by improving their line through free agency. After failing to find any production from Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings cashed out by trading the former Jaguar to the Ravens in exchange for a third-round pick after sending their only second-rounder to Jacksonville.
While the Vikings will continue to improve their pass rush following the failed Ngakoue experiment, Minnesota should see improved play at defensive tackle. 2020 free agent signing and opt-out Michael Pierce will break into the starting lineup and will be joined by 2021 signing, Dalvin Tomlinson. The pair should significantly stabilize the defense with the return of Daniell Hunter who is returning from neck surgery. The 26-year-old is one of the most productive defensive ends in the league but will be monitored coming off the injury.
With the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings will likely focus on improving their play at both the offensive and defensive line. After setting an NFL record with 15 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, general manager Rick Speilman once again looks to be a busy man with spring with a total of 10 picks.
With two third-round picks and a total of four fourth-round picks, the Vikings will be in a position to trade up his spring. Minnesota could be tempted to move up in the first following a potential quarterback frenzy or move their draft capital to enter back into the second round.