Going into Week 18 of the 2022 NFL season the Minnesota Vikings have clinched the NFC North as well as a playoff spot guaranteed to be no worse than the No. 3 seed. While playoff appearances are generally seen as positive for teams, Vikings fans and NFL fans alike have serious doubts about Minnesota’s chances of a deep run in the postseason.
Assuming the critics are correct, the team would not only end its season with nothing to show for it but would also end up with a less-than-ideal first-round draft pick. This has been the case for years, making it difficult for the franchise to craft a generational draft class to push the team over the edge.
According to Tankathon, the Vikings currently sit in the 27th pick slot of the 2023 NFL Draft. Since 2016, Minnesota has only drafted a player with a top-20 pick once in center Garrett Bradbury in 2019. Higher draft picks being that infrequent for a team would generally imply consistent success but the Vikings have made the playoffs just twice (not including this season) in the same six-year span.
Being a fringe playoff team is expected for any team in the span of a few years. Teams in the midst of rebuilds after a couple of good drafts, teams coming off deep playoff hangovers looking to see how they stack up to improving opponents, and then teams that just cannot seem to get over the hump. The Minnesota Vikings have been trying to get over the hump for the past decade, giving them a poor draft position nearly every year.
Some gems have been found by Minnesota in the later picks of the recent first rounds, like offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw in 2021 and of course spectacular wide receiver Justin Jefferson in 2020. Other than the two AP All-Pro players, there has been a lack of anyone consistent. It has been a revolving door of defensive backs that have not panned out, one of the main reasons for the team’s current struggles in the secondary.
The problem is that when teams continue to fail, a rebuild is necessary. Minnesota has not had a true rebuild in over half a decade and is in a constant state of half-rebuild half-win-now mode. A step needs to be taken, whether it be backward to get a top-10 pick or forward to be a true contender if the franchise and its fans want to see a real change for the better.