By most indications, the Vikings came out of the offseason pretty much as they envisioned. They made some splashes in free agency, found some talent in the draft while largely keeping last year’s roster stable. As other teams around the NFC made similar splashes, Rick Spielman and company made the moves to at least appear to stay in stride with the conference elites. How close they got, well, that is open for debate.
The Full Press Vikings crew give their opinions on exactly how the Vikings have fared since the 2017 season ended.
Besides Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson, what move this offseason has the greatest chance to make a positive impact?
Clayton Brooks: The drafting of Mike Hughes has the potential to not only elevate the secondary, but also to the punt and kickoff return games.
Sam Smith: Rather than additions, I will go with the extension to Eric Kendricks and picking up Trae Waynes‘ option. Both are young, talented players on a stacked defense who have improved every year. Maintaining stability on the defense as long as possible should keep the Vikings in contention for years.
What do you believe was the Vikings’ best draft pick?
Talanca: Hughes. Although it may not have been the best according to specific need, Hughes is undoubtably the best player selected.
Brooks: As much as I think it hurt a key objective of their draft (interior line help), Hughes was also their best selection by far. If not for the fact that the starting secondary is already set, he’d likely be an instant starter.
Smith: After Hughes, I think it was Colby Gossett. He is a thick, strong guard with mauling potential and some mobility, and they found him in round six. I doubt he starts day one, but his frame suggests he has potential to be a mainstay one day.
What do you believe was their worst?
Talanca: Daniel Carlson. Not because he isn’t good, but rather because they traded up in the 5th round to get him.
Brooks: Jalyn Holmes has great measurable, but may also carry the most risk of any of the Vikings’ draft picks. I think Maurice Hurst might have been a better pick. Hurst only dropped as far as he did based on medical diagnosis (he was later cleared to continue playing). Otherwise, he was likely day one selection.
Smith: Don’t draft a specialist, period. It matters not how many kicking issues the team has had, and it will not change my mind if he makes a 60-yarder to win the Super Bowl. The best kicker ever was undrafted. The best in the league right now was undrafted. Spending a fifth on Carlson, who has a big leg but shaky accuracy, is not getting maximum value for the pick.
What player or position group most has your eye in training camp?
Talanca: Defensive back. I am especially looking at the two rookies, Hughes and Holton Hill.
Brooks: Has to be running back, Dalvin Cook. If he’s quick to regain his form, he could change the dynamic of the entire offense, further helping to elevate quarterback Cousins in the process. If that happens, the Vikings will be difficult for anyone in the league to stop, even the defending-champion Eagles.
Smith: I am intrigued by the offensive line. The Vikings did not draft a lock day one starter like I thought they would, so there is still at least one spot wide open. Rookies Gossett and Brian O’Neill could step in, as could second-year guys Danny Isidora and Rashod Hill. Or maybe veteran Tom Compton could step in. Pre-camp, the battle seems pretty wide open .
How would you grade Rick Spielman’s offseason?
Talanca: I give free agency an A- only because offensive line was not a huge success. That being said, the signings of Cousins and Richardson are. I give his draft a B-. So overall, offseason wise, I give Spielman a B.
Brooks: I’m going to rate it as a B to B+ overall. Free agency, A. Draft, C+. I loved what they did in free agency with the additions of Cousins, Richardson and Wright. But I wasn’t nearly as big a fan of their draft. Aside from Hughes, the rest of their selections carry significant risks and almost none of them are likely to start, even if their positions weren’t as talented as they already are. I also felt there were a number of better options they could have taken in the middle rounds that could have provided greater, more immediate impact.
Smith: Overall, I think he deserves an A. I would give his draft a B and his free agency/re-signings an A+, so average out to a solid A. He got the top quarterback on the market, a coveted defensive tackle and receiver depth. He filled holes in the draft and found some nice upside pieces. With the rest of the NFC loading up, Spielman did what was necessary to keep Minnesota near the top.
– Anthony Talanca writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @atalanca.
– Clayton Brooks writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @ClaytonRBrooks2.
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