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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.