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Lunchbreak: Vikings Tackles Named Team's Strongest Position by ESPN

The Vikings are returning all five starters on the offensive line, including highly touted tackles Christian Darrisaw and Brian O'Neill.

ESPN recently asked Mike Clay and Seth Walder to evaluate each NFL team and name the strongest position, weakest position, X-factor and "non-starter to know." Clay pointed to the Vikings tackles as their strongest unit. He wrote:

Minnesota has spent a ton of draft capital on the O-line in recent years, and it's starting to pay off. LT Christian Darrisaw enjoyed a breakout 2022 season, and only Trent Williams had [a higher] PFF grade among tackles. RT Brian O'Neill checked in ninth over at PFF, and his 94.7 [percent] pass block win rate was third among tackles last season.

On the flip side, Clay opined that cornerback is the biggest question mark for Minnesota, due largely to the roster shakeup following last season.

Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Cameron Dantzler and Duke Shelley were Minnesota's top four corners in 2022 snaps, and none are on the 2023 roster. Byron Murphy, Jr., was a quality replacement for Peterson atop the depth chart, but the rest of the room is unproven, with a combined 297 NFL snaps. Recent Day 2 and 3 draft picks Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, Jr., and Mekhi Blackmon are ticketed for massive roles this season.

Walder piggy-backed off Clay for the next question, saying Evans and Booth will be the Vikings X-factors for 2023. According to Walder, the young corners could make or break Minnesota's defense.

I'm echoing Mike here, but that pair of young, unproven corners are the clear leverage point for this team. If they struggle, the defense will, too. If they succeed, the Vikings will suddenly be a team with solid pass-rush and coverage abilities.

For the non-starter to know, Walder encouraged fans to keep their eyes on seventh-round draft pick DeWayne McBride, who led the FBS in rushing yards per game and was fifth in rushing yards after contact last season.

View the best photos of Vikings T Brian O'Neill from the 2022 season.

PFF points to FA Vikings should sign ahead of 2023 season

Most teams' training camp rosters are pretty well set at this point.

But you never know what moves could still happen, from trading to acquire a new talent, signing a free agent or extending a current player.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus looked at all 32 teams and opined one major transaction each could – or should – make ahead of the 2023 season. For Minnesota, PFF's Brad Spielberger said the Vikings should consider signing guard Oday Aboushi. Spielberger wrote:

Minnesota was able to secure one of the top wide receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft even while standing pat at No. 23 overall, bringing aboard USC product Jordan Addison, who could be the No. 2 wide receiver on the depth chart as early as Week 1. Question marks remain in their secondary and on the interior of the defensive line, but not due to a lack of recent draft picks and free agent additions, so they probably just need to let things play out on a new-look defense.

At guard, 2020 second-round pick Ezra Cleveland is entering a contract year and 2022 second-round pick Ed Ingram earned a 44.4 pass-blocking grade as a rookie that ranked 66th out of 71 guards with at least 250 pass-blocking snaps. Aboushi has been a reliable depth piece at either guard spot everywhere he goes, most recently with Vikings [Head Coach] Kevin O'Connell's former team in the Los Angeles Rams in 2022. Aboushi has three straight seasons earning grades above 65.0, with grades of at least 60.0 as a pass blocker and run blocker each year.

Just for fun, let's check out what Spielberger said about the Vikings biggest division rival in Green Bay.

The PFF writer said the Packers should sign safety John Johnson III to beef up their secondary.

This may look like a strange move, considering the only real free agent addition of note thus far for the Packers is former Houston Texans safety Jonathan Owens, but now that Adrian Amos has officially reunited with Aaron Rodgers in New York, yet another signing on the back end would make sense.

We're a broken record here, but the Packers simply cannot continue to pour draft resources into their defense and consistently perform as a mediocre unit. And that's what could happen once again if they enter the season with major question marks at safety.

Johnson didn't have a great second season with the Browns, with his 17 missed tackles the most of his career by nearly double, but he was playing behind a porous defensive line and has bounce-back potential in him. Johnson is a rangy defender who can play all over the field and could be a major bargain this late in free agency.