The Vikings’ preferred method of acquiring talent under General Manager Rick Spielman comes in this month’s NFL draft. Eight draft picks, not including a first-round selection, should provide enough opportunities to plug remaining holes on the roster.
Below are five draft needs ranked based on the team’s current state.
1. Offensive linemen
Even after signing two starting tackles in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers during free agency, the Vikings still need both a starter (right guard) and developmental prospects at guard and tackle. This year’s draft is considered stronger for interior offensive linemen as players like Taylor Moton (Western Michigan), Dan Feeney (Indiana) or Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) could help the Vikings fill another hole in the O-line.
2. Running back
The addition of running back Latavius Murray in free agency should help the Vikings from reaching for a need. Murray is currently backed up by Jerick McKinnon, C.J. Ham and Bishop Sankey, so they’ll still be looking to add to last year’s 32nd-ranked run game with a rookie from this draft class. Will the talented Joe Mixon be on the draft board? At Oklahoma’s pro day, Mike Zimmer met with Mixon, who a few years ago was videotaped punching a woman in a restaurant.
3. Defensive tackle
The Vikings sit with many capable hands at defensive tackle, but only Pro Bowl nose Linval Joseph is under contract beyond the 2017 season. Sharrif Floyd has nerve damage in his knee following multiple surgeries, and now the former first-round pick’s career is in jeopardy. Don’t be surprised to see the Vikings continue adding to the interior of their defense, which struggled to stop the run at times last season.
4. Outside linebacker
Only five Vikings linebackers are under contract after the departures of Chad Greenway and Audie Cole. They’ll likely make their young group even younger after Greenway played about 40 percent of snaps last season in the base defense. Emmanuel Lamur is an internal candidate to take Greenway’s weak-side role, though another competitor or two should be added to the mix in the draft.
5. Tight end
Rhett Ellison’s big contract with the Giants after returning from a significant knee injury the previous year is an excellent comeback for a well-liked player. However, the Vikings were likely ready to move on as they heavily pursued Jared Cook in free agency. Missing on Cook means tight end remains a need with Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan and Kyle Carter under contract next season.