bsn-vikings-opponents

The Minnesota Vikings drafted 11 players who could shape up to be contributors of some form in 2021. But what about their opponents? Bally Sports North takes a closer look at Minnesota’s foes, and how the rosters scheduled to line up against the purple have improved (or not).

(Teams listed in alphabetical order.)

Arizona Cardinals (away)

Looking to get over the 8-8 hump, Arizona beefed up in the offseason with a lot of veteran players (i.e. Malcolm Butler, Markus Golden, Chandler Jones, A.J. Green, J.J. Watt), which won’t leave a lot of room for rookies to make their way into the starting lineup. Wide receiver Rondale Moore, a second-round pick out of Purdue, probably has the best chance to make an impact, although he’s fourth or fifth on the depth chart. He could be used as a returner as well. Top pick Zaven Collins will try to find the field behind Golden, Jordan Hicks and 2020 No. 1 draft choice Isaiah Simmons.

Picks

Round 1 - Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Round 2 - Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Round 4 - Marco Wilson, CB, Florida
Round 6 - Victor Dimukeje - Edge, Duke
Round 6 - Tay Gowan, CB, Central Florida
Round 7 - James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati
Round 7 - Michal Menet, C, Penn State

Baltimore Ravens (away)

The Ravens had the fewest passing yards in the NFL in 2020 and only wide receiver had more than 500 yards (Marquise Brown, 769). No surprise then that Baltimore selected Rashod Bateman in the first round and added Tylan Wallace in the fourth round, both of whom had very productive collegiate careers. The Ravens had two first-round picks and, of course, took an edge rusher in Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, just adding to their already tough, relentless defense. Fifth-round pick cornerback Shaun Wade offers big upside if he can get his act together.

Picks

Round 1 - Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Round 1 - Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State
Round 3 - Ben Cleveland, G, Georgia
Round 3 - Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU
Round 4 - Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Round 5 - Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Round 5 - Daelin Hayes, Edge, Notre Dame
Round 5 - Ben Mason, FB, Michigan

Carolina Panthers (away)

After taking all defensive players in the draft last year, Carolina went … defense in the first round with presumed Day 1 starter Jaycee Horn, who was considered one of the elite cornerbacks available. The Panthers helped new quarterback Sam Darnold after that, though, taking offensive players with their next four selections. Second-round pick wide receiver Terrace Marshall had been projected in the first round by many prognosticators and should be able out immediately. Defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon, the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year, could be a nice find in the fifth round.

Picks

Round 1 - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Round 2 - Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
Round 3 - Brady Christensen, OL, Brigham Young
Round 3 - Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
Round 4 - Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
Round 5 - Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
Round 5 - Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
Round 6 - Deonte Brown, G, Alabama
Round 6 - Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Round 6 - Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama
Round 7 - Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky

Chicago Bears (home & away)

The Bears made a big move up in the draft to select quarterback Justin Fields. The only question will be is how soon until he is QB1? Second-round pick Teven Jenkins is already penciled in as the starting left tackle, seeing as how Chicago quickly cut the former starter, Charles Leno, after the draft. That’s potentially a lot of pressure on a couple of rookies.

Picks

Round 1 - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Round 2 - Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Round 5 - Larry Borom, G, Missouri
Round 6 - Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech
Round 6 - Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
Round 6 - Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
Round 7 - Khyiris Tonga, DT, Brigham Young

Cincinnati Bengals (away)

If nothing else, the Bengals might be fun to watch with quarterback Joe Burrow throwing to his old LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who Cincinnati took in the first round instead of a left tackle to protect Burrow. Jackson Carman, taken in the second round, is a guard. The Bengals also took a kicker in the fifth round. There’s always something going on in Cincy.

Picks

Round 1 - Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Round 2 - Jackson Carman, OG, Clemson
Round 3 - Joseph Ossai, Edge, Texas
Round 4 - Cameron Sample, Edge, Tulane
Round 4 - Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
Round 4 - D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina
Round 5 - Evan McPherson, K, Florida
Round 6 - Trey Hill, C, Georgia
Round 6 - Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
Round 7 - Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State

Cleveland Browns (home)

After allowing the 12th-most points in 2020, Cleveland targeted the defense early in the draft. Top pick Greg Newsome II should start from Day 1 at one cornerback spot. Second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was thought by some to have first-round potential and could also provide an immediate impact.

Picks

Round 1 - Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Round 2 - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Round 3 - Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
Round 4 - James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
Round 4 - Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State
Round 5 - Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia
Round 5 - Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
Round 6 - Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA

Dallas Cowboys (home)

In case you weren’t sure what Dallas thought of its defense in 2020 all five of its picks on the first two days of the draft and the first one of Day 3 all were on that side of the ball. Linebacker Micah Parsons, taken in Round 1, and second-round cornerback Kelvin Joseph, should start from the onset. Fourth-round linebacker Jabril Cox has some upside for a Day 3 pick.

Picks

Round 1 - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Round 2 - Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
Round 3 - Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
Round 3 - Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa
Round 3 - Nashon Wright, CB, Oregon State
Round 4 - Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Round 4 - Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
Round 5 - Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
Round 6 - Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
Round 6 - Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
Round 7 - Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska

Detroit Lions (home & away)

The Lions beefed up their lines in the first two days of the draft (insert your own knee-biting joke here). Offensive tackle Penei Sewell had been mocked by some as a top-five pick. Detroit took two defensive tackles with its next two picks and finished off Day 3 with a cornerback. Linebacker Derrick Barnes, taken in the fourth round, could see significant action early as well. The Lions, under a former coaching regime, allowed the most points and yards in the NFL last season at least are taking measures to fix that.

Picks

Round 1 - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Round 2 - Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
Round 3 - Alim McNeill, DT, North Carolina State
Round 3 - Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
Round 4 - Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
Round 4 - Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue
Round 7 - Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State

Green Bay Packers (home & away)

Unless you haven’t watched TV, listened to the radio or been off social media the past week or so, you know there’s bigger issues than the draft in Green Bay right now. Nevertheless, as far as this year’s selections go, the Packers’ first-round pick was something of a head-scratcher as cornerback Eric Stokes was taken before some other higher-ranked CBs (depending on your rankings). The Packers have a new defensive coordinator but in the past they used a lot of nickel and dime sets, so perhaps Stokes will see the field a lot. Second-round pick Josh Myers could slide into the center role and there’s definitely room third-round wide receiver Amari Rodgers to make a quick impact. Of course, the other Rodgers’ situation is of more importance currently.

Picks

Round 1 - Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Round 2 - Josh Myers, C, Ohio State
Round 3 - Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
Round 4 - Royce Newman, G, Mississippi
Round 5 - Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
Round 5 - Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
Round 6 - Cole Van Lanen, G, Wisconsin
Round 6 - Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College
Round 7 - Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State

Los Angeles Chargers (away)

Protecting quarterback Justin Herbert seems like a good idea and the Chargers were able to nab tackle Rashawn Slater, who some experts thought was the best offensive lineman in the draft. He should be protecting Herbert’s blind side from Day 1. Second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. will help in the secondary and third-rounder Josh Palmer added some much-needed depth at wide receiver. The other third-rounder, Tre’ McKitty is the tight end of the future.

Picks

Round 1 - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Round 2 - Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
Round 3 - Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
Round 3 - Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia
Round 4 - Chris Rumph II, Edge, Duke
Round 5, Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska
Round 6 - Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa
Round 6 - Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri
Round 7 - Mark Webb, S, Georgia

Los Angeles Rams (home)

The Rams had no first-round pick and then took wide receiver Tutu Atwell in the second round, which doesn’t fill a short-term need on a team which already has DeSean Jackson, Van Jefferson, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Maybe Los Angeles will get something out of its third- and four-round defensive picks this year. We could see seventh-round running back Jake Funk making some kind of impact. Overall, though, it doesn’t seem like the Rams helped themselves out too much in 2021.

Picks

Round 2 - Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
Round 3 - Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina
Round 4 - Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M
Round 4 - Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
Round 4 - Jacob Harris, WR, UCF
Round 5 - Earnest Brown IV, DE, Northwestern
Round 7 - Jake Funk, RB, Maryland
Round 7 - Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame
Round 7 - Chris Garrett, Edge, Concordia-St. Paul

Pittsburgh Steelers (home)

With its first four picks Pittsburgh took a running back, tight end, guard and tackle. Maybe just maybe the Steelers are looking to get their run game going in 2021. With James Conner off in Arizona, top pick Najee Harris of Alabama should get the brunt of the work out of the backfield. Pittsburgh also took a punter in the seventh round, which is always fun to mention.

Picks

Round 1 - Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Round 2 - Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Round 3 - Kendrick Green, G, Illinois
Round 4 - Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M
Round 4 - Buddy Johnson, LB, Texas A&M
Round 5 - Isaiahh Loudermilk, DE, Wisconsin
Round 6 - Quincy Roche, Edge, Miami (Fla.)
Round 7 - Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma
Round 7 - Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech

San Francisco 49ers (away)

San Francisco took a big swing – giving up a lot of assets – to get to the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and select quarterback Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. He might sit for a year (or two) behind Jimmy Garoppolo. In fact, none of the 49ers’ draft picks could emerge as a starter in 2021 although third-round running back Trey Sermon should see time in the backfield with Raheem Mostert.

Picks

Round 1 - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Round 2 - Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame
Round 3 - Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
Round 3 - Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
Round 5 - Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan
Round 5 - Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon
Round 5 - Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC
Round 6 - Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Seattle Seahawks (home)

The Seahawks had a league-low three draft picks. Three. The good news, for Seattle at least, is at least two should see decent time on the field in 2021. Second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge won’t start over fellow wide receivers Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf, but he could easily emerge as the No. 3. At worst, fourth-round cornerback Tre Brown should see time in nickel and/or dime situations.

Picks

Round 2 - D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
Round 4 - Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
Round 6 - Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida