Laquon Treadwell, Mackensie Alexander help Vikings to B- offseason grade

Sam Monson breaks down Minnesota's biggest offseason moves, taking a look at both free agency and the draft.

| 5 months ago
(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Laquon Treadwell, Mackensie Alexander help Vikings to B- offseason grade

The Minnesota Vikings took big steps forward last season, winning the NFC North and dethroning the Packers for the first time since 2010. They then came within a 27-yard field goal of advancing in the playoffs, only to see it shanked wide. They will be looking to build on a strong season under Mike Zimmer and truly emerge as contenders in 2016. Let’s take a look at what they did to achieve this.

Offseason grade: B-

Free agency/Trades

New arrivals: G Alex Boone, T Andre Smith Jr., LB Emmanuel Lamur, LB Travis Lewis, S Michael Griffin, TE Brian Leonhart

Re-signings: G Michael Harris, CB Terence Newman, ED Justin Trattou, TE Rhett Ellison, DI Kendrick Ellis, RB Matt Asiata, LB Chad Greenway, FB Zach Line, CB Marcus Sherels, LB Audie Cole

Departures: WR Mike Wallace, CB Josh Robinson, S Robert Blanton, LB Casey Matthews, LB Jason Trusnik

The Vikings aren’t in love with their offensive line, and made moves to address it in free agency, but both Alex Boone and Andre Smith, the free-agent lineman acquisitions, had their best seasons back in 2012, and both have fallen a long way since then. Retaining Terence Newman was an important move, as the aging veteran is still playing at a high level, and the Vikings aren’t sure what they have yet in last year’s first-round pick Trae Waynes or rookie second-round pick Mackensie Alexander. Newman could prove to be surplus to requirements pretty quickly, but keeping him around in case he is not was smart planning.

Elsewhere, the Vikings brought back a lot of players that don’t do much for the roster, at least on the field, such as LB Chad Greenway and RB Matt Asiata, but it’s tough to hate too much on keeping veteran leadership around, as long as they don’t see the field too much, which is Greenway’s issue.

Draft results

  • Round 1 (pick No. 23) Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
  • Round 2 (pick No. 54) Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
  • Round 4 (pick No. 121) Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
  • Round 5 (pick No. 160) Kentrell Brothers, ILB, Missouri
  • Round 6 (pick No. 180, from San Francisco) Moritz Boëhringer, WR, Germany
  • Round 6 (pick No. 188) David Morgan, TE, UTSA
  • Round 7 (pick No. 227) Stephen Weatherly, OLB, Vanderbilt
  • Round 7 (pick No. 244) Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson

The Vikings had an interesting draft, if not a spectacular one. Laquon Treadwell is a player PFF has been less high on than others, given that he struggles to separate and does not have the kind of contested catch ability of a player like Josh Doctson. He was only the 11th-highest graded receiver in the draft class last season, though he can make things happen after the catch (17 broken tackles last year) and does block well. He could be a good fit in this Vikings’ offense if they are prepared to use him underneath, where he has better success separating.

Alexander is a player our analysts think has first-round talent, but like more in a man-coverage-scheme than in zone. The Vikings pulled the trigger because they had a similar grade on him, and couldn’t pass up on the value, but it remains to be seen if he will see the field much in year one, or if he gets a similar redshirt season to Waynes a year ago.

Willie Beavers was the lowest-graded tackle in the nation last season among the draft class, and the second-worst among all tackles in the FBS. The Vikings are looking to move him inside to guard, but everything on tape suggests that he is simply not an NFL-caliber player, so to take him with their third pick in the draft was a reach.

Minnesota also became the first NFL team to draft a player directly from Europe by selecting height/weight/speed freak Moritz Boëhringer from the German Football League.


Somewhere in this Minnesota roster is a talented offensive line, but it’s not clear whether they will be able to assemble the right five-man combination to show that for the 2016 season. In Alex Boone and Andre Smith, the team brought in two players that have each shown Pro-Bowl caliber play, but neither has reached it since the 2012 season, and Willie Beavers will defy every snap of grading we have on him over the past two seasons if he can prove the team right and become a good player inside at guard after his position switch.

Adding talent like Mackensie Alexander represents some excellent value in the draft, but overall, this offseason for the Vikings is one more of potential than clear upgrade moves. That potential can work in either direction.

Vikings’ projected base defense in 2016 (2015 grades shown):

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 12.37.22 PM

Vikings’ projected base offense in 2016 (2015 grades shown):

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 12.37.46 PM

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • JonLee

    This feels more like a C- than a B-, especially on offense.

    • crosseyedlemon

      A meat and potatoes offense that features Adrian Peterson might lack sizzle but you will never find yourself having to go to the food bank.

      • Trenton Tyler Rains

        Or winning playoff games

        • Roland

          Ah yes, I forgot it was Teddy who missed the chipshot game winning FG. With AP holding.

          • Trenton Tyler Rains

            Ah yes, Vikings with a lead in the 4th quarter and another playoff fumble by AP. If only all the Vikings points weren’t from that kicker everyone hates now.

          • Craig W.

            If that kick was good we’d be talking about the game winning drive Teddy had. It was negative degrees outside. You can’t expect 35 points.

          • Josh Havlik

            If Peterson hadn’t fumbled we wouldn’t have needed the field goal. He literally gave them three points. He also only averaged 2 yards per carry with a long of 13 yards.

  • JudoPrince

    I don’t understand the logic of the Vikings sitting high round draft picks like Waynes and McKenzie for at least a year or two. High pedigree, young players reach max value on their rookie contracts, offering potential for quality production on cap friendly deals. If players like Waynes or McKenzie aren’t filling immediate voids, they should be selecting players that early who are. Teams should be using mid round picks as depth additions and mid-term prospects; not 1st and 2nd round talent.

    • Josh Havlik

      I like having depth, especially high quality depth at CB. It’s so rare for a rookie to have immediate success! if your team has a solid lineup, and you take a guy whose skill merit a pick (Alexander) then it’s a solid pick IMO.

      • Phil

        Its about quality not quantity. If these kids don’t play, how do you know if they are high quality players or even good players? Depth is great but at what cost? If they sit for the majority of their rookie deal how do you evaluate and resign them to a big deal when they have little to no playing time to base your decision upon? Out of the 9 CB’s drafted last year in rounds one and two, 6 of them played a majority of their teams defensive snaps, One made the pro bowl and DROY (Peters) and a second could have also made the pro bowl (Darby). Teams need to let these kids play and see if they sink or swim before they hand them a huge second deal.

        • Josh Havlik

          You’re all over the place so let me address a few things you touched on. I do agree that quality trumps quantity, but keep in mind, very few rookies make an impact right away. Out of 99 picks in rounds 1-3 last year, only 20 made a grade over 75. Depth also plays a large role; for instance: It was nice to have Waynes when Rhodes and Newman got nicked up last year. As a team, you always play the best guy, not the young guy just because you drafted him.

          Pro bowl means nothing…Teddy was league average and played the PB. Peters had 7 picks but also gave up 7 TDs and the second most yards in all of football.

          I guess the point I was trying to make was this: I’ll take an impact guy at CB next year over a decent guy at Safety this year any day.

  • Josh Havlik

    I really liked the Treadwell pick, Doctson was already gone and Treadwell fits Teddy’s short/midrange game. Beavers has power and good feet and was taken a round early, he’s a developmental guy and I don’t see how you can hammer the vikes too much for taking him in the 4th. I really liked the David Morgan pick. As far as OL goes…getting Sully and Loadholdt back should help and bringing in Smith to compete on a low risk deal was smart especially if Loadholdt . I like the Boone pickup which slides Fusco or Harris to the right. I wasn’t a big fan of taking Kalil’s option. that’s too much money for low end tackle, that’s my biggest gripe.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Vikings may not have an offensive line full of all pro studs but when you have the best running back in the league it’s not a deal breaker. There were no jaw dropping acquisitions but Minnesota got rid of it’s dead weight which works out to an overall positive outcome.

    • hotbari

      If they want the Offense to improve, they need to help out the QB, not the RB.

      • Bob Smith

        Improving the o line and drafting a 1st round receiver is helping the qb

      • crosseyedlemon

        There is only one ball so taking it out of the hands of the league’s best runner and former MVP would only make sense if the Vikings had Rodgers at QB.

        • hotbari

          So, you’re suggesting they run the ball 50 times a game?

  • Jerry

    That is an awful lot of red on that o-line. While I think your right that this could be the starting 5, based on contracts, it’s hard to believe they would sit the 2 best players from last years line (Berger, Harris). It’s also hard to believe as bad as Smith’s grade is, he’s actually a huge improvement over Clemmings. If Smith’s grade is red, I’m not sure what color you would use to represent how bad Clemmings’ play was. Brown perhaps, for obvious reasons.

  • enai D

    So the Vikings addressed all their obvious weaknesses, and lost no major players… and that’s worth the same offseason grade as the Packers, who essentially stood pat. That makes total sense.

  • RayINLv

    The best thing the Vikings have done in the last few years is upgrade their coaching. Watching how they have taken the negative commentary to an 11/5 season in second year creates a need to say, “I trust the team’s leadership now.” Been a long time. They are in a far better position to make evaluations, and they beat all prognosticators last year. So hold on to your horses, it’s really going to get good.

  • pobodysnerfect

    lol!!! I loves me some Viking Tears!

  • TichoB

    Anyone who doesn’t think the Vikings yet again widened the talent gap between them and the rest of the division is just not all that astute at NFL analysis.

  • Fair Observer

    The Vikings should trade AP to Dallas for a host of draft choices while he still has value; the Hershel Walker deal in reverse. AP wants to play there and the Vikes have a great RB in McKinnon who knows how to hold onto the ball.