Vikings Roster Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, and One Giant Question Mark

June 22, 2022
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When looking at this Vikings roster on paper, it is hard not to notice the number of star players that will be donning the purple and gold next season. But will that star power be enough to conceal their obvious flaws?

Vikings Roster Strengths

Offensive Weapons – 

The Vikings’ star power on offense is on par with any team in the league. Justin Jefferson is an elite-level wide receiver, Adam Thielen is a ball magnet in the red zone, and Dalvin Cook, when healthy, is one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Pair that with great-depth players such as Alexander Mattison and K.J. Osborn, and you have all the ingredients for a top 5 offense. 

Defensive Playmakers –

Are the Purple People Eaters back? 

Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter would likely lead you to believe they are

Even though they are both coming off season-ending injuries, they are still elite-level edge rushers who will provide a much needed spark of energy to a Vikings defense that looked like a fish out of the water last season. 

Not to mention the return of Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith, who are the metaphorical glue that holds this defense together.

Combine all those things with young emerging talent like Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr., and Cam Dantzler, and it is easy to be hopeful for what this defense can become in 2022.

Veteran Leadership –

With all the changes this organization has made this offseason, one thing remains the same, the veteran presence in the locker room.

This team may feel young because of the new coaching staff and front office. But, when you look at the roster, the core leaders, both on offense and defense, remain.

Vikings Roster Weaknesses

Interior Offensive Line – 

The offensive line has been the Vikings’ most significant weakness for what seems like a decade at this point. For whatever reason, during his tenure, Rick Spielman simply could not acquire the assets to give his franchise QB, Kirk Cousins, some reliable protection. Unfortunately, this season appears to be no different.

In 2020 it was Dakota Dozier. In 2021 it was Oli Udoh. Now, in 2022 the Vikings have still yet to find a long-term solution at right guard. As a result, the Vikings signed Jesse Davis this offseason, who is currently taking 1st team reps at right guard. However, Davis has certainly not won the job. Other new faces, Chris Reed and Ed Ingram will also be vying for the starting role throughout training camp.

Luckily for the Vikings, there is young talent along the offensive line at other positions. Players such as Christian Darrisaw, Brian O’Neil, and Ezra Cleveland should be protecting Vikings QBs for years to come. 

Defensive Depth – 

Earlier I talked about how the Vikings have elite-level playmakers on defense, which is true; they do. However, sitting behind these awesome playmakers are some questionable backups.

For example, if Dalvin Tomlinson or Harrison Phillips were to go down with injuries, that would leave some combination of Ty McGill, James Lynch, Jalen Twyman, and possibly Jonathan Bullard to fill their shoes. These are a bunch of names that, simply put, don’t inspire plenty of confidence.

Similarly, if Danielle Hunter or Za’Darius Smith were to get injured (which would not be farfetched considering their injury histories), that would leave DJ Wonnum, Janarius Robinson, and Patrick Jones II to step in. Three players who are young and have potential. However, you certainly would question their ability to step into a starting role.

As we all know from last season, there is also shallow depth in the secondary. Outside of Cam Bynum and Andrew Booth Jr. (if he doesn’t beat out Dantzler in camp), nobody trustworthy would be ready to step in.

A Giant Question Mark

The Vikings New Coaching Staff – 

Although most fans would lead you to believe that it can’t possibly get worse than Mike Zimmer, let me remind you that Zimmer was 74-59-1 during his eight-year tenure, it most certainly can get worse.

That is not to say it was wrong to fire Zimmer because it wasn’t. He deserved it. This roster is far too talented to be hovering around .500 for back-to-back seasons.

However, who is to say that Kevin O’Connell is going to show up and fix all the problems this team had. Because honestly, nobody will know if he and his coaching staff are up to the task until they make it through at least the first month of the regular season.

The players are saying great things so far this offseason about O’Connell, and it’s hard to ignore what he did with the Super Bowl Champs last season, but how much trust do you genuinely have that he can turn this sinking ship around in just one year?

Roundup

Roundup

The Vikings have one of the most star-studded starting lineups on paper in the NFL. But will Kevin O’Connell and his staff be able to reach this team’s potential or fall short like teams past?

Personally, I believe O’Connell will inject life into this franchise, and the Vikings will make the playoffs, finishing around the 11-win mark. 

However, I can’t remember a time when I predicted the Vikings to miss the playoffs, so take my prediction with a grain of salt.