With the rush of free agency in the rear view mirror it is time to focus in on the NFL Draft, specifically on team needs. In this article we look at the Minnesota Vikings draft needs for 2016 as we approach the April 28th 1st round from Chicago. 2015 was a fantastic season for the Vikings. They wrestled the NFC North crown away from Green Bay and claimed their first division title since Brett Favre was playing for them in 2009. The Vikings roster is in a very good shape going into 2016, there are no glaring holes that need filling early in the draft. So how best to fortify what Mike Zimmer and his staff already have to work with?
The Vikings have a lot of nice receivers, but no real stand out that strikes fear into the opposing defense. Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright and Charles Johnson have been solid and reliable options for Teddy Bridgewater but if the Vikings want to help their young passer and give themselves a chance to become less dependent on Adrian Peterson then finding an elite outside threat is a must.
The Vikings have nailed their linebacker selections recently. Anthony Barr (9th overall – 2014) is a superb all-round football player who could be a leading star for any defense in the league. Eric Kendricks (45th overall – 2015) had a fantastic rookie campaign at middle linebacker but next to those two is the aging Chad Greenway, who used to be a key cog for the Vikings but now stands out like a sore, slow, thumb. While there is a good crop of 4-3 linebackers in this class there is a chance they will all be gone before the Vikings pick at #23, but with such a strong roster the Vikings are in a position to move up the board on draft day should the opportunity arise.
The Vikings don’t necessarily need one – they get good production out of Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter but none of the 3 are true standout pass rushers. It’s also a fact that in modern football teams need a strong rotation of edge rushers to keep up the pressure on a play to play basis. With Robison getting on a bit (32), and Hunter an unknown quantity when it comes to extended playing time another option, such as Clemson’s Shaq Lawson, would improve the Vikings pass defense drastically. If they do find the next Jared Allen or Julius Peppers then they will have a weapon to torment Green Bay with for years to come.