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Monday Morning Mailbag: Embracing the Offseason Grind & Early Mond Impressions

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Our projected offensive line of Christian Darrisaw, Wyatt Davis, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland and Brian O'Neil have an average age of 23.2 years. It is early, but I think the sky is the limit for this group. They have the potential to develop into a team strength. Patience and hard work will be a key to their development.

— Gerald Goblirsch

We'll get this Mailbag started with a note that I hope all of you are enjoying your Memorial Day, while also keeping in mind the reason that most of get a holiday in the first place.

A few initial thoughts on Gerald's comment before we dive in deeper:

If you missed it, the first-team offensive line at Wednesday's open Organized Team Activity practice was, from left to right: Rashod Hill, Cleveland, Bradbury, Dakota Dozier and O'Neill.

Second, key word there is projected. It's not even June yet, so plenty remains to be determined up front. While that was the first unit above, Darrisaw (left tackle) and Davis (right guard) were running with the second team.

But overall, Gerald is correct in his assessment that the offensive line could soon be viewed as a strength of the team … and a unit that features young and ascending players.

O'Neill, who is entering his fourth season at age 25, and Bradbury, who will turn 26 before his third pro season, could be tasked with replacing Riley Reiff's leadership, even if neither wind up being captains during the regular season.

And if — again, this is a big if — the starting line features Darrisaw, Cleveland, Bradbury, Davis and O'Neill, then the Vikings could boast one of the league's best offensive lines in a season or two.

That distinction might not happen in 2021 because of the growth needed from a handful of players, primarily the rookies in Darrisaw and Davis. And Cleveland will be watched closely as he has apparently switched to left guard after starting nine games at right guard as a rookie.

View photos of the Vikings third organized team activity on May 26 at the TCO Performance Center.

But the potential for success is certainly there. And it would be a welcome sight after pouring so many resources into that group over the past few drafts, as that hypothetical starting five would all be drafted in the top three rounds since 2018.

The development of the Vikings offensive line could play a huge role in the Vikings future success, both in 2021 and beyond.

Now that the dust has settled from the anticipation of draft day, and with OTAs starting, I feel down and need the excitement of competition. Bring on the season! I see the Vikings going 10-7 or better … what do you think it'll take to win the North? Skol!

— Nicholas Balkou

Embrace the grind, Nicholas. That's the best piece of advice I can give you for this time of the calendar year.

I certainly get your point … the draft has grown into a seemingly mega-event with so much anticipation and build up.

View the best images from Week 1 of OTAs at the TCO Performance Center shot in black-and-white by the Vikings team photographer. Andy Kenutis.

Then it's over, and players are running around in shorts and funky-looking helmets in late May.

But many around the league believe this time of the offseason is a crucial process in helping develop team chemistry (both on and off the field), as well as rapport between players who might be new to the team.

In the Vikings case, it's important for Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson to continue building on what they started a year ago. Defensively, Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson are learning how to play next to each other … ditto for Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods.

As for your schedule prediction, it's a little early for those in my mind. (And I don't think I'm fully adjusted to seeing the 17-game total). But we'll get into that more once training camp hits and the season grows closer.

Can we hear more about Kellen Mond? How is he looking? We don't get to see much video of him throwing yet. Do you really think he has the potential to be the future for us?

— Wallace from Minneapolis

If you haven't seen it yet, here's a 1-minute video of Mond throwing from rookie minicamp earlier this month.

But other than that? Yes, video clips have been sporadic from Mond through the first week of OTAs.

And that's OK! He's only a few practices into his NFL career and is likely still taking in plenty of information on the fly. In case you missed it, here's an analysis piece on Mond’s possible, eventual impact.

For what it's worth, Jake Browning and Nate Stanley took reps with the second-team offense during teams drills at Wednesday's OTA practice. Mond was running with the third team, a spot that usually doesn't get many reps.

During one drill, for example, the Vikings ran about 20 plays in a full 11-on-11 team period. Cousins took about half those snaps, while Browning and Stanley took eight combined. Mond was then in for two snaps, so roughly 10 percent of the entire session. The first play was a run and the second was an incomplete pass that was dropped.

Mond's best bet is to hone in on all of the reps he gets. If he excels with the third team now, perhaps that leads to a chance or two with the second squad. (I wouldn't expect him to get any with the starters, FYI).

Kind of like what I said above to Nicholas, but Mond could also take the approach of embracing the grind over the next few months. He was a four-year starter in college and likely won't play at all in the regular season in 2021.

He needs to perfect his craft in practice and get himself ready for those three preseason contests, all of which will be crucial to determining his future role in Purple.

View photos of Vikings players at practice during rookie minicamp on May 15.

Any sign of Mr. Hunter? I see others that missed last year are trying to get in shape and back to work?

— Toby S.

A reminder that OTAs are voluntary for all players. No, Danielle Hunter was not at Wednesday's practice that was open to the media. But he wasn't the only one missing.

The only thing mandatory during the offseason program is minicamp, which is scheduled for June 15-17. We're still a few weeks out from there, and all practices remain voluntary until then.

I know Hunter missed all of 2020 with the neck injury that required surgery, but I'd also venture that he's been staying in pretty good shape during his recovery.

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