By Ben Babcock
Offseason Grade: B+
Draft Grade: B
The Vikings stayed pretty solid this offseason. They went all in on Kirk Cousins, giving him $84 million guaranteed over the next three years. Then gave linebacker Eric Kendricks $50 million to stay for another five years, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson as the only other decently big signing, signing a 1-year, $8 million contract. Other than that all they did was add a little depth and hold onto everyone.
Kirk Cousins was easily the biggest name in free agency this year, after not being able to work out a long-term deal with the Redskins the past two years they finally moved on when they traded for veteran quarterback Alex Smith. The Vikings had some quarterback problems last year but still managed to make it to the NFC championship game with their third-string quarterback and without their starting running back Dalvin Cook. So with Cook back and Cousins at the helm, the Vikings are looking to make another run this year. The only thing they needed on this offense was another receiving threat. They signed Kendall Wright and Tavarres Kings which is great depth. Kendall Wright was very solid in Tennessee, has averaged about 600 yards a season, and has the potential to be a great third option for Kirk Cousins.
Going into the draft I had them taking an offensive lineman in the first round. Instead, they took cornerback Mike Hughes. The more I think about it the better this move is. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are already very solid, but veteran Terence Newman is 39 years old. So Hughes has at least a year to develop behind Newman, possibly even ahead of him, and then the Vikings have the potential to have an extremely talented and young cornerback trio. So I like this pick. The second and sixth rounds are where they did what I expected, taking OT Brian O’Neill and OG Colby Gossett. The offensive line was probably the weakest part of the offense, and now they are really solid everywhere. The Vikings roster no longer has any sort of large hole. They are a very solid team right now and as long as they aren’t plagued by injury again, they are for sure winning the NFC North, but I can’t say how far they’ll make it in the NFC side of the playoffs. The Eagles, Rams, and Saints are all just as potent of teams that the NFC can’t be predicted clearly. The only thing I know is that it will be one of these four teams representing the NFC in next year’s Super Bowl. The Vikings have the personnel, it’s just a matter of what they can do with it.