The Vikings in the 2017 NFL draft added 11 more pieces to their roster puzzle, with a dynamic running back and a polished offensive lineman leading their draft class.
Their busy, trade-filled weekend was the culmination of an active offseason during which General Manager Rick Spielman also signed six established veterans, including three players on offense who collectively came with a $100 million price tag.
Now it’s up to coach Mike Zimmer to figure out how all those pieces fit together.
Here are five of the most-pressing roster questions Zimmer and his staff must answer in the next four months during spring workouts, training camp and the preseason:
1. Who will be the starting five on the offensive line?
The Vikings did not draft an offensive tackle over the weekend, which means they should stick with their plan of having free-agent splurges Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers man the two tackle spots. The talkative Alex Boone will start at one guard spot, presumably left guard. The other two spots are seemingly unsettled.
At center, the Vikings return veteran Joe Berger, who was their best lineman last season before a concussion knocked him out of the lineup in November, and Nick Easton, who started the final six games at center, even after Berger returned.
Berger also is an option at the other guard spot, as is the versatile Jeremiah Sirles.
The prediction here is that third-round draft pick Pat Elflein, who excelled at both center and guard at Ohio State, will start somewhere in Week 1. Where he specifically lines up will depend on whether Berger, Sirles or Easton secures the fifth starting spot.
2. Which runner will lead the backfield?
One of the primary reasons why the Vikings parted ways with Adrian Peterson this offseason is that they were looking for a versatile tailback who could run out of the shotgun and be a plus player in the passing game. They then added two of them to go along with scatback Jerick McKinnon, who was underwhelming a season ago.
Zimmer has praised free-agent addition Latavius Murray as a three-down back. He is the team’s best pass-protecting back and the favorite to get goal-line work, having scored a dozen touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders last season.
But second-round pick Dalvin Cook’s talent is undeniable. He has patience and vision along with the ability to pull away from defenders in the open field. Cook, who went to Florida State, figures to become the lead back at some point. And with Murray out until training camp after ankle surgery, he will get an opening this spring.
3. Who will be Linval Joseph’s tag-team partner?
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd flashed Pro Bowl potential during his first two years under Zimmer but just couldn’t stay on the field. Now his career is in jeopardy after suffering nerve damage during his September knee surgery. The Vikings don’t seem optimistic that Floyd, whose 2017 salary is locked in, will resume his career.
Datone Jones, signed away from Green Bay this spring, is the top candidate to step into the void next to Pro Bowl nose tackle Linval Joseph. Jones, a former first-round pick, feels he was not utilized properly by the Packers — and he probably has a point. His frame and skill set look to fit best at the three-technique position Floyd played.
In addition to Jones, the Vikings’ options include Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen and Jaleel Johnson, a fourth-round pick out of Iowa who had 7 ½ sacks in 2016.
4. What about the other openings on ‘D’?
The departure of scrappy slot specialist Captain Munnerlyn seemed inevitable when the Vikings drafted Mackensie Alexander in the second round last year. Alexander has the inside track to replace Munnerlyn at that important position if he plays with more discipline. If not, Terence Newman or Jabari Price could line up inside.
(That’s assuming 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is a full-time starter over Newman.)
Speaking strictly from an on-field performance standpoint, replacing Chad Greenway is much less of a worry because he played less than 40 percent of the snaps. Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robinson are candidates to step in at Greenway’s old weakside linebacker spot. Seventh-round pick Elijah Lee fits that position, too.
5. Will the Vikings make any more moves?
The Vikings restocked their depth chart with those 11 picks over the weekend. But don’t rule out them signing a veteran or two before the start of training camp.
They drafted a pair of wide receivers, South Florida’s Rodney Adams and Miami’s Stacy Coley, on the final day of the draft to add needed depth at that position. But that group could use more experience, especially if they were to move on from Jarius Wright, the valuable slot receiver who inexplicably fell out of favor last season.
The Vikings also could add a proven player to the mix at linebacker. Safety and tight end are other thin positions that could require another veteran competitor.