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Monday Morning Mailbag: Offseason Program Begins, Cornerback Depth & Irv's Health

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, which is presented by FedEx. Remember to include your name and town on the email. The questions below have been edited for clarity.

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I have been following the Vikings since 1969 when I was 13 years old, which means I am now 66. I was disappointed to see Mike Zimmer get fired because I liked him for his toughness and his defensive mind, but I came to realize that today's NFL is a different animal than the NFL of the Purple People Eaters, which I feel is what Zimmer was trying to emulate. That being said, I want the Vikings ownership to know that I'm super excited to see the direction they are taking the team. It's exciting to watch the new coach and GM wet their feet in their respective roles. It's exciting to watch the two young men with a new perspective and fresh ideas and passion about what they are trying accomplish in Minnesota. It's an exciting time to be a fan! SKOL!

—Michael Schuffenhauer

Welcome to another edition of the Mailbag, and Michael's enthusiasm comes at the perfect time.

The Vikings return to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center today for the first phase of their voluntary offseason program.

And while that is an exciting day every spring, it's likely even more so the case this year because of Minnesota's new and fresh leadership that Michael referenced.

View photos of the Vikings 2022 coaching staff.

That's not meant to be a shot at Zimmer or former General Manager Rick Spielman, as both did some great things in their tenure here. But, as we've covered here in the past three months, it was simply just time for a change at the top for the organization.

That main figures of that change — GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell — now get their first chance to be around the 2022 Vikings and make their own stamp on the franchise in that way.

It's not as if the first day of the offseason program is going to be intense. Nor will it have anything to do with being on the field.

But it's a chance for O'Connell to address his team for the first time and for players and coaches to meet each other and get their first introductions out of the way.

The Vikings certainly can't win any games on the 2022 schedule by having a productive day. But O'Connell and his staff, which is almost made up of entirely new faces, can join with the players in helping lay the groundwork for the months that lie ahead.

Is there a chance the Vikings double up on cornerbacks in the 1st and 2nd rounds?

—Josiah Jochims

An interesting question here from Josiah with the draft on the horizon.

Is his scenario possible? Sure.

Is it likely? Probably not.

Cornerback still remains among the team's top needs, even as the team has added some bodies there in recent weeks.

In the span of a week in late March, the Vikings brought back Patrick Peterson and 2021 practice squader Tye Smith, as well as adding Nate Hairston and Chandon Sullivan to that room.

And while Cameron Dantzler headlines the other corners who are still here, that group could still use a rookie in the room as a long-term centerpiece, if that is indeed the direction the Vikings go at No. 12 overall or maybe in the second round.

Based on current contracts, I believe the longest contract on the team goes to Dantzler and Harrison Hand, both of whom have two years left on their rookie deals.

A rookie cornerback, whether that's in Round 1 or not, would give Minnesota a fresh, young face and a player to build that position group around for the future.

I just don't think doubling up on corners is what will happen, especially with the roster still also potentially needing help at other places, including edge rusher, wide receiver and along the interior of the offensive line.

Put another way, this won't be like the 1999 NFL Draft, when the Packers spent their first three draft picks (Nos. 25, 47 and 87) on defensive backs after a guy named Randy Moss torched their secondary the season before.

How is Irv Smith's rehab going?

—Christopher Carrillo

That's a bit of an unknown since we haven't seen Smith in a few months, or heard from him since late last summer when he got injured.

However, O'Connell did recently speak about him at the Annual League Meeting and gave a fairly positive update,

"We're going to be smart with Irv," O'Connell said when asked about Smith. "There's no reason why he can't hit the ground running from a mental perspective this spring. I know [tight ends] coach [Brian] Angelichio and myself and [Vikings Offensive Coordinator] Wes Phillips, we've all been in contact with Irv. He's so excited to get going. I think he feels really good.

"He's been getting some great work in down in New Orleans," O'Connell added. "We'll get him up to our facility here in the next couple of weeks. He's been up for some medical checks, and everything looks great. I know he feels good."

That's good to hear from O'Connell, who surely has to be excited about how he can utilize Smith in his offensive scheme.

In the months and weeks before his injury, Smith looked like he was set for a breakout season. He dominated at training camp and looked smooth in the preseason before a fluke injury cost him the entire season.

Now, as he enters the final season of his rookie deal, Smith will hopefully look just as he did before getting hurt.

But, as O'Connell said, he doesn't need to look like that tomorrow or even next month. As long as Smith is healthy and thriving for camp, O'Connell and the Vikings will likely take that.

I truly enjoy the mailbag every week. Since the 2022 draft is less than a month away, I thought I would add a new wrinkle for what the draft experts are predicting, so here goes…

Some mock drafts have Liberty QB Malik Willis being taken early off the board. I would love to see the Vikings take a shot at him. Having Willis learn behind Kirk Cousins would be an ideal scenario. Nearly all the draft gurus have the Vikings taking a cornerback with their 12th pick. However, the draft experts say that this year's draft is deep at corner. So, if Willis were available at No. 12 it would be fun to see the Vikings draft him instead.

At some point Kwesi will need to do something about our future QB anyhow, and the timing for learning behind Cousins may be ideal. As of this writing there are two teams, the Giants and the Jets, who have two 1st round picks ahead of the Vikings pick at 12. Perhaps the Vikings could swap picks with one of those teams, along with a future pick or two, and possibly do some sort of trade if that's what it would take.

—David Bond in Byron, Minnesota

A well-thought out and detailed question from David, who wonders about a long-term quarterback play in the first-round later this month.

In this hypothetical scenario, Minnesota would take a QB at No. 12 and then have them sit for at least a year behind Cousins.

While I wouldn't be opposed to that scenario, I do think it's a tad unlikely.

From everything we've heard, the 2022 season will be about the dynamic between O'Connell and Cousins as much as anything else to see what the future means for that position.

If Cousins excels and the Vikings make the playoffs, perhaps it means he's here for a few more seasons.

But if he struggles or the Vikings miss the postseason again, maybe Minnesota does to look ahead to a new person at that spot?

In David's scenario, they would essentially do both — evaluate Cousins in 2022 while also drafting a potential long-term solution.

The reason I think it's unlikely is because of Cousins' no-trade option. Even if there's a second-year QB in the system, Cousins would have to agree to a trade, and there's no way to know if he would right at this moment.

If he doesn't, which is certainly his right, then you have an expensive QB along with a young player who won't have played for his first two seasons.

Maybe the Vikings front office surprises everyone and actually takes a QB.

Either way, David's question is a great one and centers on a question that hovers over the team in a distance. Cousins is the guy right now, yes. But is he the guy in 3-5 years? If so or if not, and that remains to be seen, then maybe a 1st-round QB is in play?

I was impressed with running back A.J. Rose when I saw him in preseason. After that we never seemingly heard another word about him. Was it just a case of lesser competition?

—Bill Boyer

Rose was certainly a bright spot in the preseason, with 100 rushing yards in the opener and then a pair of scores in the finale.

And the team liked him enough to keep him on the practice squad for most of the 2021 season, plus bring him back on a futures contract for this season.

But it's not really Rose's fault that he didn't see the active roster last year.

For one, the Vikings have Dalvin Cook, who is both highly paid and very good. He's the workhorse back, no question, and one of the best at his position across the league.

Minnesota also invested mid-round picks in Alexander Mattison (third round) and Kene Nwangwu (fourth round) in recent seasons, so they are going to have a leg up on playing time, too.

And with fullback C.J. Ham's versatility, he can be a running back if needed, too.

The best thing for Rose to do is have a strong offseason, training camp and preseason for the second year in a row.

If he does, then maybe he'll earn a 53-man roster spot, whether it's with the Vikings or someone else.