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Lunchbreak: TE, CB Among Barnwell's Deepest Free Agent Position Groups

We're officially a week away from free agency, as the NFL's New League Year begins at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 16.

Hundreds of NFL players are scheduled to become free agents at that time, including nearly 20 Vikings who were on the roster in 2021.

Yet as free agency looms, which position groups should we keep an eye on?

Bill Barnwell, who covers the NFL for ESPN, recently highlighted the deepest position groups, with tight end and cornerback topping his list.

Those positions are relevant to the Vikings, who have multiple players scheduled to be free agents at both spots.

At tight end, the contracts of Tyler Conklin, Chris Herndon and Luke Stocker expire on March 16.

View the best tight end photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.

Barnwell, who said Conklin has the skills to start in the NFL, noted the depth of this group:

In a league often desperate for playable tight ends, this is arguably the deepest class of free agents at the position in NFL history. There's a remarkable number of tight ends who would qualify as average or above-average regulars, which is going to allow teams to reshape their offenses accordingly.

Conklin recorded 61 catches for 593 yards and three scores in 2021, his lone season as a starter.

Barnwell also touched on the cornerbacks group, where Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander are slated to be free agents.

Barnwell mentioned Minnesota as a team that could be active among this position group if things shake out a certain way.

Barnwell wrote:

In the way that baseball teams always need more pitching and hockey teams always need more defensemen, every NFL team wants to be deep at cornerback. If we look at the teams that need help the most, though, a handful come to mind. I'll start with the Vikings, who are set to lose Peterson and Alexander and don't seem to have anybody left on the roster who Mike Zimmer trusted a year ago. Cameron Dantzler has posted solid numbers and should be in line for one starting spot, but Minnesota will be looking to add at least two corners for new Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell.

Peterson and Alexander both signed 1-year contracts with the Vikings last offseason. Dantzler is heading into his third season after being a 2020 third-round pick.

Barnwell also included the safety spot — where Vikings 2021 starter Xavier Woods is scheduled to be a free agent — as one of the deeper positions ahead of free agency.

As for the thinnest position groups, Barnwell included tackle, guard and quarterback among that group.

His full breakdown ahead of free agency can be found here.

CBS Sports offers possible FA addition for Vikings

As mentioned above, cornerback could be a positional focal point for the Vikings in free agency.

Jared Dubin of CBS Sports offered up a possible addition for Minnesota's secondary, as Dubin picked a potential free agent to match with each NFC team.

Dubin tabbed Darious Williams as a player who could be an option for Vikings. He wrote:

New Vikings Coach Kevin O'Connell came to Minnesota from the Los Angeles Rams. His new team is extremely thin (in terms of quality players, if not necessarily bodies) at the cornerback spot. Why not bring along an old friend, whom his former team may not be able to afford to retain? Darious Williams is a solid No. 2 corner who plays bigger than his size, and can execute in coverage. Minnesota doesn't have a ton of wiggle room this offseason, and should look to shop in the lower and middle tiers of free agency.

Williams spent the past three-plus seasons with the Rams, starting 26 total games with six total interceptions. He also recorded a pair of fumble recoveries (with one returned for a score), along with 27 total passes defensed.

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