Minicamps around the league have wrapped up, and training camp is just around the corner.
In the meantime, NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks delved into teams’ receiving corps and ranked his top five. Brooks explained the criteria he used for the evaluation. He said that "most top groups have an established No. 1 receiver with a polished game that allows him to anchor the aerial attack," and that they also feature a "big-play specialist with a skill set that consistently produces explosive plays" and "third-down specialists." Brooks added:
The final component of an elite receiving corps is the presence of a designated red-zone weapon. This player might be the team's No. 1 receiver, or it could be a big-bodied pass catcher capable of winning [1-on-1] matchups when the field shrinks inside the 10-yard line. Regardless, the "DRZW" has a feel for creating separation in a tight area through quickness or physicality, and those skills are essential to scoring points in a league where you have to throw to win.
Brooks tabbed the Vikings as the top receiving corps, saying that "it's no coincidence Kirk Cousins picked the Twin Cities as his new home."
Like the rest of us, [Cousins] saw the Vikings WR corps torch defenses in 2017 with a journeyman QB2 at the helm. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are spectacular route runners with outstanding stop-start quickness, wiggle and playmaking ability. Each guy is capable of taking over a game as a lead receiver, but it is their collective ability to create headaches for opposing coaches that make them the top pass-catching tandem in football. With Kyle Rudolph also chipping in as a designated red-zone weapon (12 red-zone touchdowns over the past two seasons), the Vikings explosive WR corps could help Cousins play at an MVP level this year.
Coming in behind the Vikings on Brooks' list were the Falcons, Steelers, Chiefs and Browns.
ESPN's Cronin complimentary of Vikings offseason
The Vikings headed into the 2018 offseason with a number of goals in mind.
Reflecting over the past four months that included hiring a new offensive coordinator and signing Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson in free agency, ESPN's Courtney Cronin said Minnesota "has the pieces in places to contend in 2018 and take one step forward to playing for a championship."
Cronin also highlighted the addition of cornerback Mike Hughes, whom the Vikings drafted 30th overall, to further bolster the league's No. 1 defense.
As far as the "biggest question still to be answered in training camp," Cronin asked what the Vikings offense will look like under John DeFilippo. She wrote:
Don't expect a ton of wholesale changes, but perhaps a scheme that will bring out the best of Cousins' skill set (play-action, deep ball) while working to turn around his weaknesses (red-zone turnovers). Training-camp practices will provide a look into how comfortable Cousins is in the Vikings offense and with his skill players. Beyond Cousins, what are the Vikings going to do with their offensive line? Who wins the nickel corner job? Which running back will fill the void left by Jerick McKinnon? Who is the No. 3 receiver? Do the Vikings have enough depth at linebacker? Stay tuned.