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The Vikings’ Actions are Speaking Louder than their Words

Right now, the Vikings’ GM is trying to tap dance on a tightrope. He’s at once trying to load up a roster for contention in 2024 while still having ample cap space for 2025. Meanwhile, he needs enough draft capital for a potential move up the board for a promising passer while also operating from within a free agency where compensatory selections will arrive in 2025.

Not easy, folks. Constructing a team capable of competing both now and in the future isn’t for the faint of heart.

As we stand back and assess the decisions that are being made, is there any hint about how Minnesota will approach the 2024 NFL Draft? Is Minnesota leaning in a certain direction? What do their actions tell us?

Consider one interpretation of what’s occurring.

The Vikings’ Actions are Speaking Louder than Words

Free agency and the NFL Draft walk hand-in-hand.

Upon first glance, they look distinct from each other, but they’re a tandem that need to be considered as a coherent whole. The NFL executive who doesn’t have this perspective will quickly get in trouble.

The Price of the Vikings’ Next Trade for QB

The Price of the Vikings' Next Trade for QB

Impasse with Kirk

So for Minnesota, the task is to give Brian Flores enough resources to keep the defense on its rapid ascent. But, crucially, the NFL Draft may not offer very much support.

The best guess from prognosticators far and wide is that Minnesota will be jumping up in the draft. Doing so will very likely involve packaging picks No. 11 and No. 23 to get into the top 5. The benefit is being able to choose a QB super high; the downside is getting no defensive help in RD1, RD2, or RD3.

Flores Flourish
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings appear ready to navigate the huge chasm between draft choices.

Let’s say the Patriots can be persuaded to ship out No. 3. Minnesota will then have the luxury of scooping up one of Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy. Any help for the defense will need to wait a whopping 105 selections since Minnesota will get on the board toward the top of the 4th with the draft’s 108th selection.

Going to be a lot of antsy draft nerds in Minnesota (and maybe a few restless NFL executives in Eagan).

How Does New
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adofo-Mensah has responded to the potential absence of defensive draft picks early on by continuing to attack the depth (or lack thereof). Most recently, that has meant doing deals with corner Shaquill Griffen, edge rusher Jihad Ward, and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill.

Combined, those three players have 156 career starts. Kicking things back to just games played means Minnesota is adding 309 career games of NFL experience. Something to be said for that, folks, especially since that experience is getting added to all three levels of the defense. Do all three still get added if the expectation is to add defenders early in the 2024 NFL Draft? Or, perhaps, is there internal expectation about being able to make the jump to go snag a quarterback, thus forfeiting defensive help early on?

Putting these players onto the team — which is to say nothing of adding EDGE Jonathan Greenard, EDGE Andrew Van Ginkel, LB Blake Cashman, DT Jerry Tillery, and DT Jonah Williams — points toward a scenario where Flores reinforcements are likely to be in short supply early on in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the mid-to-late rounds can often yield excellent players. One needs only to think of LB Ivan Pace Jr., someone who entirely slipped out of the draft, signing as an UDFA. He was a starter as a rookie and was excellent. And then there was Mekhi Blackmon — the final selection in the 3rd — doing good things as a rookie. Before Blackmon, there was Akayleb Evans making a positive impact as a 4th-round selection from the 2022 NFL Draft.

Plus, Adofo-Mensah can never be discounted when it comes to putting together a trade. If a talented player is tumbling down the board, will the Vikings leverage No. 108 to get into the late 3rd? Leaning on some of their other draft picks could get the job done.

Depending on the mid-to-late rounds to furnish a defense with rookie starters would be a foolish approach. A welcome surprise if it occurs but by no means the expectation. The Vikings are responding to the potential lack in those opening three rounds by continuing to add defenders. In so doing, the hint is that the Vikings will make an honest effort to partner their high draft picks to go snag a quarterback they covet.

Would Make A Lot
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

As of late March, nothing is an ironclad certainty with the Vikings’ upcoming draft. Adofo-Mensah has a “preferred scenario” but even he must wait to see what the future holds. And while that sliver of uncertainty means nothing can be determined on a 100% basis, the Vikings’ actions point toward a team that knows it’s going to make a strong push to get to the top of the draft board.

Fortify the defense now since the early portion of the draft isn’t likely to offer a ton of high-end defensive talent. Do so with the expectation that the franchise’s new QB1 could arrive on Thursday, April 25th.

Source link : https://vikingsterritory.com/2024/news/opinion/the-vikings-actions-spe-lou

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