USA Today Ranks Vikings as Mediocre in Post-Draft Power Rankings

Aug 18, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury (56) looks on during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings climbed five spots in USA Today‘s post-draft power rankings, placing them at the #16 rung on the ladder. In the previous edition of the same power rankings, Minnesota checked in at #21.

So, the draft evidently was fruitful for the Vikings. The event created newfound optimism on the team’s offensive line because two presumed starters — Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis — were drafted during the draft’s first two nights. Darrisaw and Davis are slated to outfit the Vikings left side of the offensive line, barring an unforeseen change of plans or training camp injuries. In each draft since 2018, general manager Rick Speilman has poured high draft capital into the offensive line (O’Neill, Bradbury, Cleveland, Darrisaw, and Davis), so success better be on the horizon.

Minnesota spent the first part of the offseason fortifying the defense — a unit that was abhorrent in 2020, surrendering the fourth-most points in the league. In direct response to that futility, Spielman signed via free agency Patrick Peterson, Dalvin Tomlinson, Xavier Woods, Nick Vigil, Mackensie Alexander, and Stephen Weatherly. Then, players like Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Michael Pierce (COVID opt-out), Mike Hughes, and Eric Kendricks will return from mass absence in 2020. In this regard, the 2021 defense will feel totally different and revamped.

The offense is largely familiar. Kyle Rudolph and Riley Reiff were the notable departures while head coach Mike Zimmer will hope to build on an offense that ranked third in the league via yards gained and 11th in points scored. New offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak — who replaces his father, Gary — will have plenty of tools to play around with during his rookie season. Many onlookers yearn for youthful creativity on offense — and Klint Kubiak isn’t very old. He could marry both worlds of the Zimmer-style offense and sprightly playcalling.

In the USA Today piece, writer Nate Davis comically noticed the even-odd cycle implemented by Zimmer for wins and losses:

Since Mike Zimmer was hired in 2014, Minnesota has missed the playoffs in every even-numbered year but made postseason in all the odd-numbered years. Pencil ’em in, especially given the offensive line upgrades.

Minnesota missed the playoffs in 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019 whereas Zimmer’s bunch reached the postseason in 2015, 2017, and 2019. Therefore, if this strange phenomenon continues, the Vikings should be a shoo-in for January football — particularly in a playoff format that now welcomes seven teams per conference instead of six.

At the 16th spot on Davis’ power rankings, Minnesota is impressively ranked higher than the Arizona Cardinals (17th), Los Angeles Chargers (19th), and Pittsburgh Steelers (21st).

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cleveland Browns [in order] led the rankings. The bottom-feeders [from bad to worse] were the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans.

Zimmer must finish better than 16th when the season wraps up after Week 18. 2021 will serve as a referendum on his services, and a playoff win is likely required for the 64-year-old to again lead the team in 2022.

Under Zimmer’s leadership, the Vikings are the NFL’s 8th-best team per winning percentage at 64-47-1 (.576)