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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / State Of The League: Minnesota Vikings

State Of The League: Minnesota Vikings

A first Look at the Vikings 2021 season!
Publish Date: 07/21/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Kirk Cousins (8), quarterback de los Vikings de Minnesota, festeja con sus compañeros, tras una anotación ante los Lions de Detroit, el domingo 3 de enero de 2021 (AP Foto/Duane Burleson)

The NFL Draft and free agency is in our rearview mirrors. There is very little day to day NFL news aside from random minor transactions across the league and conversations about where/when this star player will be traded. The NBA and NHL playoffs are almost done. Baseball is gearing up for a long, hot second half of the season. The dog days of Summer are upon us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look down the line at what else the coming summer months hold for us: Training Camp and the NFL preseason. We will be going over all 32 teams’ offseason, division by division: their player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. Let’s finish up the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings.

Previous NFC North reviews: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings Pre-Training Camp Projected Depth Chart

Position Starter Backup
QB Kirk Cousins Kellen Mond
RB Dalvin Cook Alexander Mattison
FB C.J. Ham
WR1 Justin Jefferson Chad Beebe
WR2 Adam Thielen K.J. Osborn
WR3 Bisi Johnson Ihmir Smith-Marsette
TE Irv Smith Tyler Conklin
LT Christian Darrisaw Rashod Hill
LG Ezra Cleveland Dru Samia
C Garrett Bradbury Mason Cole
RG Dakota Dozier Wyatt Davis
RT Brian O’Neill Olisaemeka Udoh
DE Stephen Weatherly Patrick Jones
DT Michael Pierce Armon Watts
DT Dalvin Tomlinson Sheldon Richardson
DE Danielle Hunter D.J. Wonnum
OLB Anthony Barr Ryan Connelly
MLB Eric Kendricks Chazz Surratt
OLB Troy Dye Nick Vigil
CB1 Patrick Peterson Bashaud Breeland
CB2 Cameron Dantzler Harrison Hand
CB3 Mackensie Alexander Jeff Gladney
FS Xavier Woods Camryn Bynum
SS Harrison Smith Josh Metellus
K Greg Joseph Riley Patterson
P Britton Colquitt
LS Andrew DePaola
KR K.J. Osborn Kene Nwangwu
PR K.J. Osborn Chad Beebe

*BOLD player name = Rookie*


Minnesota Vikings 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 (23rd overall): OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

Round 3 (66th): QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

Round 3 (78th): LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina

Round 3 (86th): IOL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

Round 3 (90th): EDGE Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh

Round 4 (119th): RB Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State

Round 4 (125th): S Camryn Bynum, California

Round 4 (134th): EDGE Janarius Robinson, Florida State

Round 5 (157th) WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa

Round 5 (168th): TE Zach Davidson, Central Missouri

Round 6 (199th): DL Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh


Minnesota Vikings Offseason Player Personnel Moves

Expired Contracts
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Dan Bailey K 33 MIN Released
Todd Davis ILB 31 MIN
George Iloka FS 31 MIN
Sean Mannion QB 29 MIN
Brett Jones C 30 MIN
Kyle Hinton G 23 MIN
Cordrea Tankersley CB 27 MIN Released
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Acquired via
Dalvin Tomlinson DT 27 NYG MIN Free Agency
Patrick Peterson CB 31 ARZ MIN Free Agency
Sheldon Richardson DT 31 CLE MIN Free Agency
Bashaud Breeland CB 29 KC MIN Free Agency
Stephen Weatherly DE 27 CAR MIN Free Agency
Mason Cole C/G 25 ARZ MIN Trade
Mackensie Alexander CB 28 CIN MIN Free Agency
Nick Vigil OLB 28 LAC MIN Free Agency
Xavier Woods S 26 DAL MIN Free Agency
Parry Nickerson CB 27 GB MIN Free Agency
Tye Smith CB 28 TEN MIN Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Departed via
Anthony Harris FS 30 MIN PHI Free Agency
Kyle Rudolph TE 32 MIN NYG Released
Ifeadi Odenigbo DL 27 MIN NYG Free Agency
Riley Reiff LT 33 MIN CIN Released
Mike Boone RB 26 MIN DEN Free Agency
Shamar Stephen DT 31 MIN DEN Released
Eric Wilson LB 27 MIN PHI Free Agency
Jaleel Johnson DT 27 MIN HOU Free Agency
Mike Hughes CB 24 MIN KC Trade
Chris Jones CB 26 MIN TEN Free Agency
Tae Hayes CB 23 MIN ARZ Released
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Rashod Hill OT 29 MIN MIN
Ameer Abdullah RB 28 MIN MIN
Chad Beebe WR 27 MIN MIN
Dakota Dozier OG 30 MIN MIN


Minnesota Vikings Offseason Review

The Minnesota Vikings 2020 season was a disappointment in large part due to their defense falling off. They made it a point to address that this offseason, in hopes of making it back to the playoffs in what could be a very winnable division – if Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay hanging. The team will benefit from several key contributors on the defensive side of the ball coming back after missing time due to injuries or Covid opt outs. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak retired, leaving Minnesota with a new/first time offensive coordinator in his son Klint Kubiak – the Vikings’ former quarterbacks coach. Will head coach Mike Zimmer be able to get this defense back to the level they are used to, and make a push for the playoffs, or will the team fizzle out again?

While there won’t be major changes personnel or scheme wise, the Vikings will still have some sorting out to do with the starting lineup. Minnesota added a handful of quality veterans to plug some holes immediately on defense, and used their 11 draft picks to bolster the depth all over the roster. Kirk Cousins has been an above average quarterback for the Vikings, but his contract expires after next season, and the team drafted Kellen Mond in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft to prepare for the day they move on from Cousins. Mond will definitely need some refinement and development (especially with his progressions and deep ball) to eventually be considered as the future at the position, but he lands in a good spot and has all the physical talent you look for at the position. 

The biggest changes on offense came along the offensive line, where the team had three of the five starting positions settled, but needed an upgrade at left tackle (after releasing former starter Riley Reiff) and at guard. Those potential upgrades came via the NFL Draft, where the team spent its 1st round pick on tackle Christian Darrisaw and a 3rd rounder on guard Wyatt Davis. Darrisaw is a better pass blocker right now than he is a run blocker, but he is an intriguing prospect who has the foot quickness, size, and length needed to be the starting left tackle in Minnesota. He didn’t allow a sack all season in a breakout 2020 at Virginia Tech. Davis, on the other hand, isn’t a lock for a starting role like Darrisaw, but he will be competing with incumbent Dakota Dozier for one of the starting guard spots. Dozier was absolutely awful last season for the Vikings, and the team would love for Davis to take the job away from Dozier. Mason Cole was added via trade to provide depth at center and guard. The team will also be moving on without big bodied tight end Kyle Rudolph, who left the team as a free agent and signed with the Giants. Irv Smith is the favorite to take his place, and the team drafted athletic receiving tight end Zach Davidson in the 5th round to add depth at the position. 

The defense got a lot of love this offseason, as Zimmer set about reinforcing the unit after a dismal 2020. The defense fell to 27th in total defense and 29th in scoring defense, but several key pieces in the front seven missed time. Star edge rusher Danielle Hunter missed the season due to a neck injury; linebacker Anthony Barr missed the final 14 weeks of the season due to a shoulder injury; linebacker Eric Kendricks missed the last five games of the year due to a calf injury; and defensive tackle Michael Pierce opted out of the season (Covid). The defensive line gets back Hunter and Pierce, but also added defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson (2 years, $25M) and Sheldon Richardson, and defensive end Stephen Weatherly in free agency. Pierce/Tomlinson/Richardson could be one the NFL’s best interior groups, while Weatherly, rookies Patrick Jones and Janarius Robinson, and D.J. Wonnum will compete for playing time opposite Hunter. A restocked, healthy defensive line will be key if the Vikings are going to end up better than 28th in sacks. Kendricks and Barr will reclaim their starting roles at linebacker, with Tony Dye, free agent signing Nick Vigil, and rookie 3rd rounder Chazz Surratt battling for the final starting spot on the outside.

The secondary underwent a huge overhaul for the second straight offseason. Last offseason, the Vikings lost three starting corners in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander, and failed to adequately replace them. This offseason, the team traded former 1st round cornerback Mike Hughes to Kansas City, saw safety Anthony Harris leave via free agency, and cut Cordrea Tankersley. Minnesota did a better job beefing up the secondary this time around. They signed former All-Pro Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland to one year free agent deals, and brought back Alexander after a one year hiatus in Cincinnati. Peterson is slated to start at one of the outside corner spots, while the favorite heading into camp to start opposite him is Cameron Dantzler; Alexander will likely start as the nickel back, and Breeland rounding it out. Jeff Gladney is dealing with serious legal issues that may get him suspended to start the new season. Safety Xavier Woods was also signed to start, and Camryn Bynum was drafted to be the 3rd safety and potentially replace Woods after this year.

The Vikings have enough talent to win ten games as they did in 2019 but will need better luck in the health department. The offensive line coming together, a restocked defense staying healthy, and a strong running game will be keys to a successful season. Cousins needs to be more consistent as well, or fans and media in Minnesota may want to see if Mond can provide a spark. Zimmer might need to make a playoff push to save his job, and with Detroit rebuilding, Chicago breaking in a rookie QB, and questions about Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the division is potentially wide open.

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