Minnesota Vikings 2018 team preview
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The Minnesota Vikings had everything going right until the NFC championship game last season. They finished 13-3 and were the second seed in the NFC. They were one game away from becoming the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. No other team had ever been that close to doing it. They didn’t keep the status quo and went out and got two of the best players available in free agency at their respective positions to upgrade a pair of weaknesses.

Here is a breakdown of the Vikings for the 2018 season.

Head Coach

Mike Zimmer is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Vikings. He has amassed 39-25 record while making the playoffs twice. Prior to joining the Vikings, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator of the Bengals (six seasons), defensive coordinator of the Falcons (one), defensive coordinator of the Cowboys (seven), defensive backs coach of the Cowboys (five), assistant coach of the Cowboys (one), defensive coordinator of Washington State University (five), defensive coordinator of Weber State University (six), assistant coach of Weber State (two) and assistant coach of the University of Missouri (two).

Draft Picks

Round 1, Pick 30 – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida. Hughes is a playmaking cornerback. He has tremendous speed and ball skills with return ability.

Round 2, Pick 62 – Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh. O’Neill is a tall and athletic project. He needs to add strength and refine his technique.

Round 4, Pick 102 – Jalyn Holmes, DL, Ohio State. Holmes is a big end with interior pass rush ability. He could be a valuable piece of sub-packages along the defensive line.

Round 5, Pick 157 – Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan. Conklin is an athletic receiver. He is a very good receiver but needs to improve as a blocker.

Round 5, Pick 167 – Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn. Carlson is a strong legged kicker who was inconsistent in college. He also displays his big leg on kickoffs.

Round 6, Pick 213 – Colby Gossett, OL, Appalachian State. Gossett is a big, strong, powerful blocker. He has athleticism concerns and needs to improve his technique.

Round 6, Pick 218 – Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane. Aruna is a long and athletic edge rusher. He has a really good combination of size and speed. He is a project that could be a steal.

Round 7, Pick 225 – Devante Downs, LB, California. Downs is a big linebacker coming off a serious knee. He is strong and ha as good tackling ability.

Notable Additions

OL Tom Compton (Bears) – Compton is a depth lineman that can fill in anywhere on the offensive line.

QB Kirk Cousins (Washington) – Cousins was the top free agent quarterback in quite a few years. He has a strong, accurate arm. He has not proven to be an upper tier quarterback yet in the league.

DT Sheldon Richardson (Seahawks) – Richardson is a strong and athletic interior lineman. He has the ability to collapse the pocket and keep the quarterbacks from stepping up.

QB Trevor Siemian (Broncos) – Siemian is a capable backup quarterback with starting experience. He is an accurate passer with enough mobility to make plays out of the pocket, but is very inconsistent.

WR Kendall Wright (Bears) – Wright is an explosive, undersized slot receiver. He has playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He runs good routes and can make the difficult catch, but his production hasn’t matched his talent level.

Projected Starters

Offense

Quarterback – 8 Kirk Cousins; Running Back – 33 Dalvin Cook; Wide Receiver – 19 Adam Thielen; Wide Receiver – 14 Stefon Diggs; Wide Receiver – 17 Kendall Wright; Tight End – 82 Kyle Rudolph; Left Tackle – 71 Riley Reiff; Left Guard – 62 Nick Easton; Center – 65 Pat Elflein; Right Guard – 74 Mike Remmers; Right Tackle – 69 Rashod Hill

Defense

Defensive End – 99 Danielle Hunter; Defensive End – 97 Everson Griffen; Defensive Tackle – 98 Linval Joseph; Defensive Tackle – 93 Sheldon Richardson; Linebacker – 55 Anthony Barr; Linebacker – 54 Eric Kendricks; Linebacker – 42 Ben Gedeon; Cornerback – 29 Xavier Rhodes; Cornerback – 26 Trae Waynes; Safety – 22 Harrison Smith; Safety – 34 Andrew Sendejo

Specialists

Kicker – 7 Daniel Carlson; Punter – 4 Ryan Quigley; Long Snapper – 47 Kevin McDermott

Biggest Question

Will the Vikings be able to protect their quarterback?

The Vikings did very little to help their offensive line this offseason. Compton is a depth signing and O’Neill is a project. Neither are expected to be a big contributor this season. They had opportunities to get an immediate starter in both the draft and free agency, but did not. Cousins’ health is a big concern for the Vikings if they do not get adequate play from the offensive line.

To Answer That Question

They have to.

Left tackle Riley Reiff is the only projected starter on the offensive line that you know what you will get from him at his position. There are question marks at each of the other four spots. Left guard Nick Easton reportedly underwent herniated disk surgery that likely ends his season on Thursday. Center Pat Elflein is on the Physically-Unable-To-Perform (PUP) list after having offseason ankle surgery and is an unknown for the opener. Right guard Mike Remmers has only played a handful of snaps at the position in his career. Right tackle Rashod Hill has shown good things, but has only played a few games. The backups are even more of an unknown. The Vikings need everything to go right on the offensive line once again.

Outlook

The Vikings will win the NFC North again. They have the best roster top to bottom of any team in the division. The end result will be a 10-6 mark with a tough road schedule that includes games at the Patriots, Eagles and Rams. They should win a game at home before falling on the road in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.