Present company excluded, most local and national writers (as well as fans) consider the 2020 NFL Draft a complete home run for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had a record 15 picks in last weekend’s virtual draft, bringing their two year total from 2019 and 2020 an amazing 27 picks (that’s a full seven picks ahead of the number two team in the league).
It’s not just quantity that have people jazzed, though, as the thought is that the Vikings also received a ton of value from their picks. Let’s take a look at what people think that means for the 2020 season by doing a 2020 NFL Power Rankings Round-Up!
The quotes in italics are from the articles/power rankings, the bolded writing is my thoughts on each (if applicable).
- Inside the Vikings (Sports Illustrated) – 13
“After losing a great deal of talent in March and pulling off a strong draft in April, the Vikings check in at No. 13 in the power rankings. Interestingly, the voters were somewhat all over the place with Minnesota’s ranking. They were placed as high as No. 7 and as low as No. 19, a 12-spot range that is tied for fourth-biggest among all teams.
The ranking of 13th is a fall of five spots from the last time the full MMQB staff voted on power rankings, which was shortly after the Super Bowl. The Vikings were 8th back then, as they were coming off of an appearance in the NFC divisional round.
A few months later, 13th feels just about right for these Vikings. They lost a great deal of starting-level talent, including star receiver Stefon Diggs and a sizable chunk of the secondary. While Minnesota’s draft was widely viewed as a highly successful one, it’s difficult to ask rookies – even first-round picks Justin Jefferson and Jeff Gladney – to replace established NFL starters right away.”
This feels about right. There are simply far too many question marks on this Vikings team (and youth) for them to have improved on their previous position. The Vikings had a pretty amazing roster on paper in 2019, and they are currently weaker at their most important position group, the offensive line (namely in the guard category).
While there have been reports that the Vikings are going to be looking at third-round offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland at both tackle and guard. Which’d be HUGE as unless they can coax back right guard, 2020 could be a really rough year for the line (and subsequently, the team).
- Bleacher Report – 6
“The Minnesota Vikings’ offseason personnel changes included two separate and distinct halves.
Free agency wasn’t especially kind to the franchise. With one of the worst cap situations in the league, there wasn’t much in the way of resources to add players. Defensive end Everson Griffen is gone. So are Minnesota’s top three cornerbacks and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who was traded to the Buffalo Bills.
That trade afforded the Vikings a second pick in Round 1, and it’s in the draft where Minnesota attempted to fill the holes on the roster.”
This is the sort of cognitive dissonance I’ve been talking about in my post-draft articles. They are openly pointing out that the Vikings lost Diggs, and their starting three corners. Yet somehow, they keep the Vikings as the 6th best team?
Don’t get me wrong, I love this team and think that if they can finally add some interior lineman in whatever is remaining in free agency (or next year’s draft), and the Mike Hughes/Cameron Dantzler/Jeff Gladney/etc. buck the trend that we’ve seen with other corners in head coach/supposed CB “Guru” Mike Zimmer’s system AND Justin Jefferson comes through on his promise to make the teams that passed on him in the draft “pay”… huff/puff/huff and/or puff… THEN, maybe they’ll… I don’t know… Be 10-6 again?
With, most likely, two or perhaps three of their four defensive lineman also being new?
Key word, again. With Stefon Diggs, and Josh Kline at right guard, and $14 million dollar man in Cincy Trae Waynes, $4-ish million dollar man also in Cincy Mackenzie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes at corner, etc. The Vikings were 10-6 in 2019, and 8-8 in 2018 (although they didn’t have Kline that year). I just find it hard to believe that they are going to be the 6th best team with the amount of youth and thus question marks they have at very key positions.
- NBCsports.com – 13
“The Vikings have lost a ton this offseason but brought tons of prospects in the draft. Justin Jefferson should be a plug-and-play receiver and they went with two cornerbacks early trying to fill that void.
There’s too much talent and good coaching for the Vikings to fall too far. ‘
This sounds about right, yet again. See #1
“It’s just hard to see the Vikings being better after a lot of salary-cap moves in the offseason. They had a solid draft and it’s not like their free-agent losses will cause a freefall. It’s just hard to project them to repeat 10 wins.”
I told you I wasn’t lying about all parity in the national media regarding the 2020 Vikings. While that might lend itself to the theory that power rankings, especially ones that are clearly based on the unknowable variables that come from the draft, are mostly filler content… This is, more interestingly, a view into the wide range of outcomes that this Vikings team may end up with in Zimmer and Spielman’s final contracted year.
If you’ve read my stuff you’ll know that I feel that (barring some drastic changes on the line) the Vikings have a better chance ending up as the 13th to 20th “best” team in the NFL than he 5th or 6th (as, again, 2018/19 may have been the most stacked position-by-position on-paper roster in my lifetime). This article sums up what I said above…
If the Vikings went 10-6 (and 8-8) in the last two years with the continuity that they had on Zimmer’s (more) esoteric (than most teams’) defense(s), how can we expect the Vikings to get anywhere near that amount of wins with this team?
I don’t think that is me necessarily being “negative”, but rather being realistic instead of blindly optimistic. I think that there is a relatively large contingent of fans that conflate the two. While people label my network a group of “fan sites”, the truth is that I am a fan first and foremost and the thing I want more than any other is for this team to WIN.
I don’t go to games for the tail-gating, or drinking, or camaraderie, or the overall social aspect of being part of some sort of supposed “Super” fan group. I go, when I do, to cover the game and because I love the team. I simply don’t believe that Mike Zimmer is the guy to get them there at this point. I said this well before the draft, but I do think that we’ve seen the peak of the Zimmer team/defense, and while I do think he’s amazing at identifying and developing defensive talent in the draft, he clearly prioritizes the defense over the offense.
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- USA Today – 5
“WR Justin Jefferson could make Skol supporters forget Stefon Diggs in fairly short order. Quality depth added to trenches and secondary.”
Depth to the secondary? We lost our two starters and nickel corners. You can’t add depth without a starter at both the outside and nickel spots.
Also, maybe he meant the defensive side of the “trenches”. But, they didn’t add hardly any depth to the offensive line. They did use a 6th-rounder as well as a 7th-rounder 2 picks from Mr. Irrelevant on the line that, based on their track record of drafting late-round offensive lineman (Oli Oduh notwithstanding), won’t make the 53-man roster (nor the practice squad after a year).
They obviously also drafted Ezra Cleveland, which many draft experts (Deshawn Vaughn and Kirby O’Connor of purplePTSD.com/VikingsTerritory.com included) are enamored with. I like that pick, too, but one pick isn’t depth especially if the expectation is for that pick to play and start at guard.
That does raise the question as to what my power ranking position for the Vikings would be.
Stay tuned as the fellas from our sites answer that very question in a round-table this week!