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Monday Morning Mailbag: Backing Bailey, DT Depth & Emerging Leaders

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town on the email. The questions below have been edited for clarity.

You can also send Eric a Mailbag question via Twitter.

Do you think Dan Bailey's production will go down in the coming years? And if so, who has the best odds at replacing him? There are players like Adam Vinatieri, Matt Bryant, and Phil Dawson who have been in the game longer than I've been alive. But I don't know if Dan Bailey can either play as long as those three, or keep the production he has for as long as possible. We've had our fair share of kicking mishaps, but I truly think Dan Bailey should be a part of the 53-man roster until he starts to degrade. Thanks in advance, and as always, SKOL!

— Carter from New Prague, Minnesota

Starting the week with a rare special teams question! To answer Carter's question quickly, no, I don't expect a drop off from Bailey, especially this season. Here's why: for the first time in recent memory, the Vikings have stability within their kicking operation with Bailey, Britton Colquitt and Austin Cutting all back in the fold.

View the top photos of Vikings K Dan Bailey from the 2019 season.

Bailey's first full season in Purple was a hit, as he earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors on three separate occasions. He hit 27 of 29 field goals in 2019, including 19 straight kicks to end the regular season, plus all three in the playoffs, so he was one of the league's hottest kickers down the stretch.

Bailey has been one of the league's best kickers since entering the league in 2011. He ranks sixth all-time in field goal percentage at 87.313 percent, and would be even higher if he didn't have some ups and downs in 2017 and 2018 with Dallas and Minnesota due to a nagging injury or joining a new team after the season started.

The Vikings showed their belief in Bailey, signing him to a three-year deal in March.

As you mentioned, kickers have proven to have longevity in this league, especially of late. Bailey is just 32 years old right now. If he wants to do this for the next 8-10 years, I don't see why he can't, especially if he's as productive as he was in 2019.

Now that the P.J. Hall trade fell through, what do the Vikings do at DT? Stay safe, and Skol.

— Nicholas Balkou

There's been a lot of focus on the DT group over the past two weeks, but the reality is that the group is in the same spot they were after the Michael Pierce news and before the Hall trade was rescinded because of a failed physical.

That means the group of defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, Armon Watts and Jalyn Holmes will try to win a starting spot, with the likes of Hercules Mata'afa and James Lynch providing depth in situational roles. And, as we mentioned in last week's Mailbag, Shamar Stephen could always slide to the nose tackle spot.

View photos of Vikings players who participated in workouts at TCO Performance Center.

What I'm more intrigued by going forward is whether or not the team brings in more depth at that position. Rosters are currently capped at 80 players instead of the normal 90 for a preseason, and they'll be at 53 plus a 16-player practice squad by the start of the regular season. Bringing in a veteran would require another roster move. The team's first full practice is scheduled for Aug. 17, providing the first look at the position group in 2020.

The Vikings seem to have great leadership throughout the organization, starting with the Wilf family and continuing with the management and coaches. I am interested to know, from your unique vantage point, which players you see as up-and-coming leaders. Excluding established star players and rookies, who have not had a chance to prove anything yet, which young players on the team do you see as possible future leaders?

— Jon Lamers in San Antonio, Texas

Great question, Jon. I'll give you a handful, but really focus on two players below. To me, the group of Alexander Mattison, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Garrett Bradbury and Mike Hughes are all players that could take on bigger leadership roles this year and beyond.

But if we're looking a pair of players that immediately came to my mind, I'll go with right tackle Brian O'Neill and linebacker Eric Wilson.

O'Neill took a big leap from Year 1 to Year 2, and the expectation is that he does the same again in 2020. Aside from his strong play on the field, it seems as if O'Neill is more confident and comfortable with his role on the team, too. Here is what Vikings OC Gary Kubiak said about him last week:

"The first thing I see with him when I walked in the building this year, I see confidence," Kubiak said. "Young player last year. I see extreme confidence, knows exactly what we're doing, why we're doing it and has great ideas as a player.

"He's a very bright player, so when guys are going to become Pro Bowlers and great players, you see them take huge steps from Year 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and you're watching that progression go with Brian," Kubiak added. "We're very happy to have Brian on our team. I think he's going to become a leader as well."

With Wilson, he sometimes gets overshadowed by Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, but the defensive depth and special teams ability he provides is exceptional. He could grow into an even bigger role on defense if he's the starter in the base 4-3. Kendricks had plenty of praise for him last week, too.

"E-Wil is a beast, man. The guy is a mental beast. He's mentally capable of handling this game in all of its capacity," Kendricks said. "He's a physical beast. As far as the weight room, he's fast and he can hit anybody. And he has the football IQ. He does things with his instincts sometimes where he makes those reactions. He can do it all.

"And as far as special teams is concerned, he's proven himself every year," Kendricks added. "He's become a leader on this team, not by being vocal necessarily, but by doing the right things day in and day out."

The Vikings are fortunate to have proven veteran leaders all throughout the roster, but the players mentioned above could help drive the organization's success for years to come.

Hi, I am a lifelong fan who moved to Minnesota to be a season ticket holder! With the training camp cut short and no preseason games, how do you think it will impact the players' ability to showcase their talent and be able to move up from either practice squad or being a rookie, to the roster for this season? And how are the ones in charge of measuring their abilities preparing to make informed and accurate decisions? Thanks!

— Hilda Gutiérrez-Ortiz from Plymouth, Minnesota

First off, Hilda, I love your dedication to the team! I actually wrote about how the Vikings will construct the 2020 roster last week as it pertains to the unique circumstances this season.

You can find that story here, but the highlights are below:

— Extra eyes from scouts in practice

— More game-like situations/live contact in practice

— A bit of future predictions for player potential

Hope that helps with your question. How the team builds the roster for the season is a storyline I plan on following as camp unfolds.