In an ongoing offseason series, experts from The 33rd Team offer three things each team can do to improve in 2023.
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Here is my list of three things that would improve the Minnesota Vikings.
3 Ways to Improve Vikings
1. Fix Cornerback Position
Cornerback has to be the No. 1 issue this Vikings defense needs to address. There’s all this talk about the Vikings’ defense needing to play more man coverage and be more aggressive, but you can’t do that unless you have cornerbacks that will be solid and tight in man coverage.
You can’t just play man coverage with guys that aren’t great at it. I know they got some good play from some younger players as the season went on. I don’t expect Patrick Peterson to be back. They’ll need to add a cornerback in free agency, and they’ll probably need to add one in the draft to have some depth at that position.
>> READ: The 33rd Team’s 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
We saw all of the injuries Cameron Dantzler had last year (played in just 10 games). He played solidly late in the season, but he couldn’t stay healthy for most of 2022.
2. Address Interior Defensive Line
Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith are solid on the outside. They have got to get a twitchier player on the interior of the defensive line. You saw some good push from Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips when those guys were fresh.
But if you don’t have that depth, or you don’t have that guy that’s twitchier, who can get into gaps with his first step and close on quarterbacks and running backs, you’ll struggle. So, they’re going to need to add somebody on the interior as well.
3. Upgrade Linebacker Spot
Eric Kendricks has done some great things for this defense, but he looks a step slower and hasn’t been as physical as we’ve seen him in the past. They need to add at least one linebacker and maybe even replace Jordan Hicks, who just came in free agency last year.
Those are the three areas they need to improve. People talk about quarterback Kirk Cousins and the possibility of getting rid of running back Dalvin Cook. I just don’t see those moves being viable options. It’s going to be a tough decision for what they’re gonna do with receiver Adam Thielen.
AP Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson needs a more explosive threat next to him, so they should probably add someone in free agency. It’s not a great draft class for receivers, especially with where the Vikings are picking (23rd overall) and their needs on defense.
>> READ: Vikings Need Defensive Overhaul
Robert Smith is a former NFL running back for the Minnesota Vikings and a two-time Pro Bowler. His career with the Vikings earned him a spot on the 50 Greatest Vikings list. Follow him on Twitter at @Robert26Smith.