Minnesota Vikings draft preview: Defensive line

Leading up to the start of the 2015 NFL draft on Thursday, we'll be taking a position-by-position look at the Minnesota Vikings' roster:

Position: Defensive line

Current personnel: Everson Griffen (signed through 2018), Linval Joseph (2018), Sharrif Floyd (2016), Brian Robison (2017), Tom Johnson (2017), Shamar Stephen (2017), Scott Crichton (2017), Justin Trattou (2015)

Projected starters: Griffen (DE), Joseph (NT), Floyd (DT), Robison (DE)

Departures: Corey Wootton (free agent)

Total cap charge: Defensive end: $15.22 million (13th); defensive tackle: $9.63 million (14th)

Scouting report: The Vikings have a strong group of young defensive linemen, but the way they've structured their offseason would suggest they're still in pursuit of help at defensive end. The team made a spirited push for former Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson before he returned to the Bengals, and also expressed some interest in players like Adrian Clayborn and George Selvie before both went elsewhere. With Brian Robison turning 32 this week, and Scott Crichton still unproven after what was effectively a redshirt season, the Vikings could look for an additional pass-rusher to join the group and keep Robison and Griffen from logging more than 900 snaps apiece again.

The last defensive lineman drafted: The Vikings took a pair of them in 2014, picking Crichton 72nd overall and drafting Stephen in the seventh round. After a solid training camp, Stephen took on a larger role than many expected in his first year, playing both the nose and three-technique tackle positions and starting three games.

Potential targets: Defensive end would seem to be the bigger need here; the Vikings could still use another good pass-rusher, both for their 2015 depth and their future. Should they choose to pursue one in the first round, players like Missouri's Shane Ray or Nebraska's Randy Gregory could be targets for the Vikings, though marijuana-related issues could drop both players well past the 11th overall pick. General manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings have evaluated 13 'tweeners' who could line up as defensive ends or linebackers in their system, and coach Mike Zimmer has shown the flexibility to work with those types of players. Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. and Clemson's Vic Beasley could be gone by No. 11, but Kentucky's Bud Dupree might still be there. The team spent time evaluating players like Utah's Nate Orchard and North Dakota State's Kyle Emanuel, two players who could be candidates in the middle rounds. The Vikings also brought Norfolk State defensive end Lynden Trail in for a visit; at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Trail is certainly not a 'tweener,' but he is the kind of long-limbed end that Zimmer had in Cincinnati.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 6 (defensive end); 3 (defensive tackle)