BRISTOL, Conn. -- The Minnesota Vikings' defensive line returns mostly intact for the 2016 season, and has a chance to be even better if some key players are able to ward off nagging injuries. That doesn't mean that the Vikings won't look to find a player or two at a position they seem to address most years. We're continuing our look at Vikings draft positions of need with a glance at the defensive front.
Position: Defensive line
Current personnel: Everson Griffen (signed through 2018), Linval Joseph (2018), Sharrif Floyd (2016), Brian Robison (2017), Danielle Hunter (2018), Tom Johnson (2017), Shamar Stephen (2017), Scott Crichton (2017), Justin Trattou (2016), B.J. Dubose (2018), Zach Moore (2017), Kenrick Ellis (2016)
Projected starters: Griffen (DE), Joseph (NT), Floyd (DT), Robison (DE)
Total cap charge: Defensive end: $16.64 million (ninth); defensive tackle: $12.99 million (sixth)
Scouting report: Though this might be the deepest position group on the Vikings' defense, there's an argument to be made for reinforcements in the 2016 draft. Robison turns 33 on Wednesday, and though he enjoyed a strong 2015 season, he could cede playing time to Hunter in 2016. The Vikings could also use depth at defensive tackle, where Joseph is returning from turf toe, Stephen is coming back from knee surgery, Floyd has dealt with knee and ankle injuries and Johnson will be 32 before the start of the season. The Vikings haven't given up on Crichton, their third-round pick in 2014, and Dubose could be a better three-technique tackle with another year to develop, but the Vikings could also look for help here, particularly if they're in the market for the interior rushers Mike Zimmer likes to stockpile.
The last defensive lineman drafted: The Vikings selected Hunter in the third round last season and watched the 21-year-old post a surprising six sacks as a rookie. Dubose came to the Vikings with a seventh-round pick, rejoining college teammate Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota.
Potential targets: Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings said at the NFL combine the Vikings told him they'd draft him in the first round. While it's hard to bank on a statement made that far in advance of the draft, Billings is an intriguing player who could pique the Vikings' interest, particularly if they decided to trade down. He's got heavy hands thanks to his weightlifting background, moves remarkably well for a big man and spends an impressive amount of time in the backfield. The Vikings also spent time with Alabama's Jarran Reed before the draft, though Reed would offer more as a run stopper than as a pass rusher. In the later rounds, the Vikings could look at Darius Latham, who worked out for the team at Indiana's pro day. And while Vanderbilt's Stephen Weatherly would need plenty of refinement as a pass rusher, he's the kind of raw athletic talent the Vikings have fixated on in recent years. At 6-foot-4 and 267 pounds, Weatherly runs a 4.61-second 40-yard dash and put up 23 bench press repetitions at the NFL combine.
Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 5 (defensive end); 6 (defensive tackle)