Vikings Secondary Labeled as “Ascending”

Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Similarly to what we’ve been doing here at PurplePTSD in our offseason “Ranking the North” series, Pro Football Focus has gone through each position group and ranked all 32 teams, including the Vikings secondary. This latest batch of rankings from Michael Renner discusses every NFL secondary. There are five tiers, which go as follows:

  1. Where Do Offenses Even Attack?
  2. Minor Question Marks
  3. Ascending Units
  4. Serious Flaws
  5. Too Much Uncertainty

Can you guess where the Minnesota Vikings ended up?

Well, if you guessed they’d end up in tier three, either you read the title of this article, or you should go get a lottery ticket because it’s your lucky day. The Vikings are indeed in the tier of ascension. I’ve had some disagreements with a few of PFF‘s rankings to this point, but these feel very spot-on.

Firstly, it’s very hard for Minnesota to go anywhere but up from where they were in 2021. Virtually every acquisition that the Vikings made last year to improve this group ended up being a flop. Bashaud Breeland was cut mid-season, Patrick Peterson was just okay, and Mackensie Alexander had PFF‘s worst CB grade with an appalling 40.6. Then there’s the mystery of why Cam Dantzler couldn’t find playing time after being one of the few pleasant surprises from the 2020 team. Minnesota finished 2021 ranked fifth worst in opponent passing yards allowed and were among the bottom-10 in terms of net yards per pass attempt as well as opponent passing TDs allowed. You get the point; pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

This offseason, the Vikings focused more on finding some youth rather than relying on veterans. They drafted Lewis Cine at safety in the first round, and then immediately followed that up with a second-round selection of Andrew Booth Jr., who had a first-round grade from many draft analysts. They’ve also brought former Green Bay Packer cornerback Chandon Sullivan into the fold for the 2022 season.

The Vikings should run out a better secondary this season than they have in years past, but there’s one big factor that could hold them back, at least in the eyes of Renner. That concern is the age of some of their players. Harrison Smith has been reliable for years, but as he enters his age-33 season, we have to assume there will be some sort of step back. Patrick Peterson has also shown signs of age over the past couple years, especially against man coverage. This unit is a blend of players that could be past their primes, combined with some unproven top-50 draft picks. That leaves a lot of uncertainty regarding how they will mesh on the field.

Despite all the potential for improvement, there’s a reason that they find themselves with a mid-tier ranking at No. 18. Remember, there was plenty of hype praising the Vikings for, at least on paper, improving one of their biggest weaknesses. We’ve already gone over how that ended up. We’ve seen these sorts of transactions before to bring in new faces; now we need to see them perform out on the field. With training camp less than a month away, we will soon get a glimpse of this new-look secondary.