Last March, the Minnesota Vikings shipped star WR Stefon Diggs and one of their four 2020 seventh-round picks to Buffalo for a 2020 first-rounder (No. 22 overall), a 2020 fifth-rounder, a 2020 sixth-rounder, AND a 2021 fourth-rounder. With arguably the biggest draft of the Spielman/Zimmer era on the horizon, it felt like a plentiful return for an unhappy Diggs… but the offseason didn’t go as planned.
Roster Turnover On Defense
The Vikings knew they were cutting ties with (CB) Xavier Rhodes. They very-well knew a split with (CB) Trae Waynes and (DT) Linval Joseph were likely. Maybe they tried to retain (CB) Mackensie Alexander, but that ultimately didn’t come to fruition either. He would go on to sign with Cincinnati.
Not only did the Vikings end up losing those four defensive staples, but they saw locker room leader (DE) Everson Griffin eventually walk too. (DE) Stephen Weatherly, (S) Andrew Sendejo and (S) Jayron Kearse followed them out the door, before the final hammer dropped. Newly signed (DT) Michael Pierce, who Madden rated as Minnesota’s best defensive player this year, opted-out because of COVID concerns. I don’t know who this Sam guy is… but he saw it coming.
Bears – offense is a mess, meh QB, aging defense— Sam (@samhuppert) July 22, 2020
Vikings – reallllll high defensive roster turnover in the cap purge, everyone just assumes 30 year old Theilen won't drop off without Diggs around
Lions – Lions
The end result was six new starters on defense, a 55% turnover on that side of the ball. But defense was far from their only problem. The Vikings also had a sub-par offensive line that, at the least, needed to be fortified on the inside.
So how did Spielman and Co choose to fix all of these holes on both sides of their depth chart, when the 2020 NFL draft came around in April? They chased the ghost of Stefon Diggs. They took that newly acquired 1st round pick they received through the Diggs trade and used it to draft LSU WR, Justin Jefferson.
Jefferson is an electric talent with game changing skills, but wide receivers are one of the more superfluous positions in football. Look at the top WR’s in the game today. What do Deandre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, Julio Jones AND Devante Adams have in common? Zero Super Bowls.
Teams should only draft wide receivers in the first round if they feel sufficiently stacked in the trenches. When was the last time the Vikings fit that mold? If you have an immobile, stationary quarterback (like Kirk Cousins) who is surrounded by a below-average o-line, the last thing you should do is draft a wide receiver. Do I dislike Justin Jefferson as a player? Absolutely not. Do I think it was a foolish pick with the makeup of this Vikings roster? Damn right… and I said it back then.
I’m going to reiterate my point again, I don’t hate Justin Jefferson as a player. I think the guy could be great but I still believe the Vikings should’ve addressed the offensive line/DB.— Stephen Strom (@SStrom32) April 24, 2020
If the Vikes can land Trent Williams, I will be a very happy man.
OL > WR
What did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do after investing into a bovine 43-year-old Tom Brady? They traded up in the draft and selected the slam-dunk OL from Iowa, Tristan Wirfs. When veteran OL Trent Williams was begging out of Washington, Minnesota missed out. This is what separates good organizations from great organizations.
Fast forward to now, the Vikings are 0-2 for the first time under Mike Zimmer. Stefon Diggs had more receiving yards on Sunday (158) than Kirk Cousins had passing yards (113). Dalvin Cook has no space to run, Cousins has been sacked five times in two games and the Minnesota Vikings have given up safeties in back to back weeks.
The same issues last year were stark going into the offseason, yet Minnesota failed to address many of them, even after they were gift wrapped a surplus of draft picks. This season is a reflection of what Spielman and Zimmer did in the draft. If the offensive and defensive lines don’t quickly transform, this will be a long season. But hey, at least Justin Jefferson has 5 catches for 70 yards on the year.
Stephen Strom | Minnesota Sports Fan