It’s been quite the rollercoaster of an off-season for your Minnesota Vikings so far. From dumping household-name veterans, to having some key players hold out from the start of mini-camp, this upcoming season is littered with question marks.
Whether speculating on a players ability to return from injury, or just the overall lack of depth at multiple positions on the roster, I’ll be giving you what stand out to me as the three biggest questions about the squad heading into the 2023 season.
The first big question surrounding the Vikings I see is the young second year core; specifically, our second year defensive backs group.
Last year was a rough year for the 2022 draft class of the Vikings, who saw their top 3 young defensive backs suffer multiple injuries.
Safety Lewis Cine. Cine suffered a devastating compound fracture to his leg during the Saints game in London. As of now, he seems to be progressing nicely, but only time will tell if Cine can get back to that heat-seeking, hard hitting ball hawk that we were expecting coming out of Georgia.
Andrew Booth Jr and Akayleb Evans also saw their rookie seasons get hindered by injury as well. Booth dealt with a series of leg injuries and Evans had multiple concussions last season. While it’s true that only time will tell if the Vikings young secondary core can bounce back to be the players we drafted them to be, it will be interesting to see where things are at as the roster works through the offseason.
The second big question mark for the Vikings is the defensive line. With Danielle Hunter holding out of mandatory mini-camp looking for a contract extension, the team is purportedly looking to retain the 28-year-old star pass rusher, or even possibly trade him.
Even if Hunter gets an extension from the team, the Vikings will still have question marks on the defensive line. If we take Hunter out of the Vikings roster, the Purple and Gold would have no premium pass rushers or difference makers coming through the line.
The team signed Dean Lowry and Marcus Davenport in free agency but those two players would be just a piece to the puzzle or depth player on any other team with a good defensive line.
It’s pretty worrisome to think about the team moving on from Hunter and leaving the defensive line essentially bare of talent. On this question, the answer should be heard sooner rather than later.
The third and final question mark that I’ll explore is the running game. With the team releasing superstar running back Dalvin Cook, the team is going to have to rely on Alexander Mattison and a few other young guys like Ty Chandler and rookie 7th-round selection DeWayne McBride for their rushing production. It was a bit disappointing to see the team release Cook while getting nothing in return, but the Vikes are now committed to younger and hopefully, better options.
It looks as if the team is pivoting to a running back by committee type of offense which displays different backs in different formations and plays. With a power back in Mattison and two speed backs in Chandler and McBride the Vikings will have a decent personnel in the backfield, but seeing will be believing.
Vikings fans will definitely miss the explosiveness of Cook and his ability to turn a negative rush into an 80-yd house call, but hopefully McBride and company can contribute to the explosiveness we will be missing with Cook gone.
Between the injuries to our young defensive backs, the depth of our defensive line with or without Danielle Hunter, and the now Dalvin-less running back group, the Vikings will, for better or worse, answer these questions next season.
Most of the questions around this team revolve around depth and talent. Both depth and talent are essential parts of a football team, even more so when the Vikings are in the midst of a “competitive rebuild”.
While there are certainly more questions to be asked about this roster(the Cousins conundrum to name one) these are the three that intrigue/worry me the most.