Following a lack luster free agency period which saw a number of veteran Minnesota Vikings players leave the squad, Minnesota needed to make a real splash in the draft. Between the Stefon Diggs‘ drama, and trying to pick up Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins, some youthful reinforcements were in high demand. They added 15 new players by the end of day three and that’s a haul no Vikings fan could be mad at.
Minnesota Vikings Offense Lineup Prediction For 2020
The Minnesota Vikings are in a weird place right now, as they undergo a small rebuild while still challenging for the playoffs. The Vikings need impact players to fill the whole left by several veterans. Picks from 2020 can be groomed and become familiar, with eyes set on a “super bowl or bust” campaign in 2021. After careful consideration from the “Zimmer family ranch” living room that fans saw on draft night, Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman, and everyone else in their respective war rooms drafted smart, impactful players in almost every position of need.
So post draft/free agency (mainly), below is a prediction of how the Minnesota Vikings offense will line up in 2020.
Left tackle (Ezra Cleveland), left guard (Riley Reiff), center (Garrett Bradbury), right guard (Brian O’Neill), right tackle (Rashod Hill)
WIth Pat Elflein‘s career trending in the wrong direction, and letting Josh Kline walk in free agency to open up cap space, Minnesota’s offensive line needed a bit of work. Having been the scapegoat for years, Minnesota has quietly gone about rebuilding an impressive front five over the last few years. The latest puzzle piece to that is Ezra Cleveland out of Boise State, standing 6’6″ and 311 pounds. Cleveland will slide into left tackle while Riley Reiff, who experimented at guard last year and wasn’t awful, will probably play left guard in 2020. Reiff will likely fill the shoes of Elflein, who was a huge liability at left guard last season. Garrett Bradbury, last year’s first-round pick was more than reliable at center, and will hopefully continue to improve at the position.
The right side of the line is a little messier. Brian O’Neill was a stand out at guard last year, trying out both sides before finding a home on the right of Bradbury. Having not allowed a sack (according to Pro Football Focus), O’Neill is a young, athletic unit who Vikings fans hope to see in purple for a long time. Finally, Rashod Hill will complete the front five for Minnesota. This one is tricky, given Minnesota’s lack of proven tackles for either side. They do have options for sure, including Aviante Collins, Olisaemeka Udoh, and newly drafted Blake Brandel. However Hill is the only one capable of being a Week 1 starter. Having recently signed a one-year deal, Hill is entering his fourth full season with the team. That experience with the franchise and the system is a tipping point why the swing tackle will be a Week 1 starter in 2020.
Adam Theilen, Justin Jefferson, Tajae Sharpe, Olabisi Johnson
Having dealt Stephon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, as well as pushing 2016 draft bust Laquon Treadwell out the door, Minnesota now lacks depth at receiver. Sure, Olabisi Johnson could hold his own and catch a football, but Tajae Sharpe has only broken 350 yards once in three active seasons with the Tennessee Titans. There was no punch there. In this year’s draft, which was loaded at wide receiver, Justin Jefferson fell to the Vikings and they took him with the 22nd pick. The speedy, aggressive, precise route runner is an immediate help at the wide receiver position.
Thielen and Jefferson both have experience in the slot, as well as on the outside, making the LSU product the perfect replacement to Diggs. Sharpe (and when called upon, Johnson) are excellent third options, but were never capable of being a number two choice.
Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin
Boasting one of the deepest tight end groups in the league last year, the only main change was to see David Morgan‘s contract terminated. Kyle Rudolph is starting to age and the emergence of Irv Smith Jr. as a more versatile and athletic tight end means Minnesota should be covered at tight end. Tyler Conklin is a nice third option to have, especially with a run heavy offense and a quarterback who frequently uses heavy sets on game days.
Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone
Last season was a wish come true for Minnesota, as they got a full season of a healthy Dalvin Cook. Cook surpassed every expectation and made fans giddy at the thought of what he can produce. Last season he rushed for 1,100+ yards, 13 touchdowns, and finished in the top six for yards per game and first downs. Now that they’ve paired him with an absolute thumper in Alexander Mattison, plus Mike Boone for reinforcement, Minnesota possesses all the qualities of a “run heavy” team.
C.J. Ham recently signed a three-year contract and the 2019 pro bowler has been as sturdy as fullbacks come.
Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion
Kirk Cousins will undoubtedly be the starter until the end of his contract in 2023, and unless seventh-round pick Nate Stanley elevates his game, Sean Mannion will probably be the number two guy in Minnesota in 2o20. Captain Kirk had a very solid 2019 campaign, and fans are slowly starting to warm up to him. With (what will likely be) three more years at the helm, Minnesota should be happy with their future under center.