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Monday Morning Mailbag: Projecting Early Camp Battles Between WRs & CBs

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I think at corner and wide receiver we have more questions depth-wise than others. We all know we lost our top three corners from last year, and we've traded away [Stefon] Diggs … [and Laquon] Treadwell is in Atlanta now. So, in terms of who Kirk [Cousins] is still familiar with WR wise, it's Adam Thielen and Bisi Johnson. Bisi looked awesome last year to me, especially for a guy that I felt didn't get a lot of buzz following his draft, but definitely showed potential last year, but how do you feel these positions are going to look when the beginning of the season finally arrives?

I think Bisi is initially going to be our WR2, although I am excited about Justin Jefferson to shine early. I think that the experience with the NFL and the offense is going to definitely be a factor at first when deciding who's going to start opposite of Adam. And if I'm to say who our three starting corners are going to be, its Holton Hill and Jeff Gladney on the outside, with Mike Hughes taking the more difficult role of playing the slot. Your thoughts? But on two-cornerback formations, it'll be Hill and Hughes.

— Reno Carmona in Minot, North Dakota

Thanks for the in-depth email to start us off, Reno. Let's get into the WR group, where Adam Thielen will certainly is the leader of the group both on and off the field. Remember that the Vikings offense likes to run the ball, so we likely won't see a bunch of formations with three-plus WRs on the field. Expect Thielen to see a heavy workload as the top target for Kirk Cousins.

Behind him, you are correct that Johnson and Jefferson are likely strong candidates for the No. 2 role, as is free-agent addition Tajaé Sharpe. Johnson knows the offense and played well as a rookie, and he could take a big leap in Year 2. Jefferson is a rookie, yes, but he's also a first-round pick, has drawn rave reviews from coaches and teammates so far and was also viewed as "pro-ready" coming out of the draft. Add in Chad Beebe and that could be the five WRs who see the most playing time in 2020.

However, don't forget about names such as K.J. Osborn, Alexander Hollins, Dillon Mitchell and Davion Davis. Osborn was a 2020 draft pick, while the latter three players have a year in the system under their belt. The battle for roster spots among WR could be the most intense at camp.

Jumping to the corners, there is a lot of focus on this group because of the turnover at that position. You can pencil in Mike Hughes as a starter. I actually agree with you that he could see lots of reps in the slot since that position has skyrocketed in importance in recent years. And I think you could be spot-on that Hill and Gladney will get the first cracks to start on the outside if all three are on the field.

Don't forget about Kris Boyd though. He could be ready to make the jump from special teams standout to a contributor on defense. Draft picks Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand could also play their way into the mix, too. And I'm really intrigued to see how Marcus Sayles figures into this ... he was a standout in the Canadian Football League in recent years.

There will be plenty to focus on once we get to training camp since the virtual offseason didn't allow us to sort out roster questions that often get answered in OTAs and minicamp.

I'll bet the team can get Cook for $11.5 million for 3 years. Might be wishful thinking but maybe...? Skol.

— Pete Westmoreland

The Vikings have typically gotten contracts sorted out in recent years at the start of, and during, training camp. Perhaps that will also be the case with the team and Dalvin Cook. He is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is looking for a new contract. These things usually take time, so we'll see what happens going forward.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

Is there a chance that the Vikings could sign Logan Ryan, Josh Kline and Everson Griffen for cheap deals? If not, who is most likely to sign with us out of those three?

— Mason Torgeson in Kenyon, Minnesota

Is there a chance of that? Sure. I wouldn't say it's a high chance since the Vikings do have limited salary cap space at the moment, and those three players would likely combine to exceed the current cap space.

Would the previous experience that Kline and Griffen have with the Vikings make either or both more likely to return in an offseason without a full offseason program? Maybe or maybe not. A deal has to be fair for both sides. But if we look at it from a strictly football standpoint, both of those players know the system, teammates, coaches and the building.

Ryan had perhaps his best season as a pro with the Titans in 2019, but the Vikings might be inclined to roll with their current cornerbacks group. It may be an inexperienced crew, but there is also a great deal of potential with that unit.

We'll keep you updated if anything happens with the roster, whether it's those players or any other. Minnesota currently has 87 players on the roster, meaning they can fill three more spots to reach the preseason maximum of 90.