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Wide Left: Vikings draft hopes? Just address the damn O-line

Introducing "Wide Left," a new column chronicling the emotional rollercoaster of a Vikings superfan.
Vikings fans, U.S. Bank Stadium

There are few mornings that are as glorious as the morning of the NFL Draft. For many people, the draft culminates three months worth of mock drafts, scouting reports and YouTube highlight videos set to autotune to determine which XXL jersey we’ll be forking out $150 for while we’re passing out around the 30th overall pick.

The anticipation that surrounds the NFL Draft is unlike anything seen in any other sports. NBA Draft? Have fun dissecting that high schooler that went to go play in Europe for a year? NHL Draft? Have fun drafting guys who might choose to stay in Russia over playing for the “State of Hockey.” MLB Draft? Ask Kyler Murray how exciting that one is.

The NFL Draft is so popular, they made a freaking movie about it. I don’t even care that it’s a bad movie, it’s still a movie about a guy walking to a podium and reading a name off a cue card. That takes some high-class marketing to make that exciting.

But as fans of the Minnesota Vikings, the draft is a different animal. Yes, the Vikings are the team that has made screwing up the NFL Draft an annual tradition, taking any corner within a 3,000 mile radius of TCO Performance Center and even forgetting we were on the clock. I apologize if this is all too soon.

So as the Vikings come off the heels of a train wreck 2019 season, the NFL Draft is a chance for them to start over and actually fulfill some of the warm, fuzzy feelings we all had when they signed Kirk Cousins. (Except for the people who still want Case Keenum here, those guys are just batshit crazy.)

Anyway, here’s a list of things that the Vikings need to do in order to make this draft count.

Upgrade the offensive line!!!

Think back to last year for a moment. If I told you that if the Vikings were looking for a quarterback and we were going to play "Let’s Make A Deal" for their next signal caller, here’s what I would say is behind door No. 1…

This quarterback will throw for 4,298 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first year as a Viking. As an added bonus, he will beat the Green Bay Packers TWICE and help turn Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen into the best wide receiver duo in the NFL!

After struggling to contain your excitement, odds are you would be sprinting to whip open that door only to find out it was Kirk Cousins. But, that’s the deal that you signed up for and in order to make that work, you need to find something to make sure he doesn’t get pounded into the ground.

Slick Rick, Trader Rick or whatever you want to call him needs to find a way to come out of this draft with two legitimate offensive linemen. If they can’t do that, this draft will be an absolute disaster.

Get a defensive tackle

Part of the carnage left behind from the Cousins contract is that the Vikings couldn’t afford to keep Sheldon Richardson. Nobody will be mistaking Mr. Richardson for John Randle anytime soon, but he was at the very least good enough to make offensive lines forget for a split second that Danielle Hunter was coming to kill their quarterback.

So far, the Vikings' big plan to counteract this departure is to sign Shamar Stephen, who Vikings fans will remember as — actually, I don’t think we remember him at all. He was just a guy behind Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd before Floyd’s leg exploded. And yet the Vikings gave him $13 MILLION to come back.

If the Vikings think that Stephen is suddenly going to turn into Aaron Donald, this unit is in trouble even if they possess the best defensive line coach in the NFL. Adding a pass-rusher on the inside should only make this defense better.

Surround Kirk with more weapons

We all know how much Mike Zimmer loves drafting defensive players. In fact, if it were up to him, he’d probably like to win games 2-0 (because he hates kickers) by playing the same 11 cornerbacks both ways. Hell, he might even mix in a safety or two because old school football is the way to go!

Outside of Zim’s twisted fantasy, the Vikings need to find a way to get Cousins some weapons outside of Diggs and Thielen. Kyle Rudolph is a great humanitarian, but I (at 6’0” and an unathletic 250 pounds) could possibly beat him in a 40-yard dash. Laquon Treadwell is in his own fantasy land thinking he’s better than Michael Thomas, and Brandon Zylstra, Chad Beebe and Jordan Taylor are just kinda meh.

Having the two best wide receivers in the NFL should be enough for most quarterbacks, but Cousins is the NFL’s version of Bubble Boy behind center. With Cousins literally needing everything to go perfectly, the main focus of this draft is to eliminate every excuse possible by getting him even more help. That way, if he sucks again, the Vikings can go full bore into the 2020 QB class.

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