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21 December 2014: Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer speaks with Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Brian Robison (96), Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen (97), Minnesota Vikings Defensive Tackle Sharrif Floyd (73), Minnesota Vikings Linebacker Gerald Hodges (50), Minnesota Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway (52), Minnesota Vikings Defensive Tackle Shamar Stephen (93), Minnesota Vikings Linebacker Jasper Brinkley (54) on the sidelines during the NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Miami Dolphins at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Every great team has its faults. Even teams that have won a Super Bowl have their weak links that they cover up by being that much better in different areas.

The 2017 Minnesota Vikings are no different from any other team this time of year. The purple and gold have certain areas where most believe they are near the top of the NFL in talent. As we witnessed last year, the Vikings also have certain positions that are seemingly near or at the bottom of the NFL.

The Vikings did make some moves to shore up some of their weak spots but was that enough for them to finally make a deep run in the playoffs? The rankings below are not which units I think are better than the other, as it is only July right now. However, the units are ranked top to bottom by how much confidence I have in each position heading into training camp.

1. Defensive line: As far as who the starting four of this unit will be, that is yet to be decided. However, everyone knows that Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter are as formidable of a threesome as it gets. Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd and Tom Johnson are just as nasty at times; this one of the deepest defensive lines in all of football.

2. Defensive backs: Having a cornerback like Xavier Rhodes is a great start to any defensive backfield. Partnering him with Harrison Smith while being coached by corner-guru, Mike Zimmer, makes them the quintessential building-block of the entire defense. If Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander take steps forward, this unit could easily take the top spot by year’s end.

3. Linebackers: This is where it starts to get a little dicey for the defense. Yet, I still have more confidence in the lowest ranking part of the defense than I do for any of the offensive parts. The combination of Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr make for a great corps but Chad Greenway’s position still needs to be filled.

4. Receivers: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph help to barely edge out the quarterback position in the confidence department. The Vikings seemingly find some great one-year-wonders, but it would be nice for all the receivers to string it together for an entire season.

5. Quarterbacks: Yes, there is quite the divide among the purple faithful when choosing between Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. However, Bradford is more than serviceable as a replacement until Bridgewater comes back. Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke add enough depth and instill more confidence than the remaining three positions.

6. Special teams: In the past, this unit has been solid. However, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jeff Locke are no longer on the team, making this a big question-mark heading into camp. Marcus Sherels should return as punt returner, but the rest is a mystery.

7. Running backs: Adrian Peterson is no longer available to be the identity of the offense. The Vikings finished dead-last by meagerly gaining 75.3 yards per game on the ground. The addition of Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook should help immensely. However, in order to have confidence in such things, it has to be witnessed first.

8. Offensive line: Easily the weakest link last season, the offensive line has much to improve upon in 2017. Although allegedly improved, the same was said last year and that did not come to fruition.

The confidence rankings can and will change many times once the season finally begins. However, the offensive line will remain at the bottom until drastic improvements are proven on the field.

The defense remains to be the identity of this team. If they falter much like they did last season, the playoffs may be out of reach yet again. If the offense improves drastically, fans will have much more confidence in the entire team.

 

Justin Ekstrom is the Vikings’ beat writer for The Grueling Truth. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @Gruelingtruth and @thesportscrib21.

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