The Minnesota Vikings begin organized team activities next week. There may be months remaining until training camp, but OTAs are the unofficial beginning of positional battles and rookies’ first opportunity to compete in practice with veterans. Here are five things to look for in OTAs…
The Vikings elected to wait until the second round to address a need on the offensive line. That leaves them with questions on the right side. Will Mike Remmers open up the offseason at right tackle or right guard? Will Brian O’Neill get work on the left and right sides? Could Rashod Hill start making a case for a starting job at right tackle? Will Danny Isidora get a shot at winning the job?
None of these questions will be resolved by early June, but we may get some hints about the Vikings’ thought process surrounding big decisions on the O-line.
Mike Hughes and Mackensie Alexander
In rookie minicamp, Hughes got some work at the nickel corner spot. It appears likely that he will get a shot at earning the starting slot gig if he catches on quickly. That starts with OTAs. Alexander split reps last season with Terence Newman, playing around 30 percent of total snaps. He should get an opportunity to battle for the job as well. The Vikings may have wanted more progress at this point from their 2016 second-round pick, but we have seen Minnesota DBs make significant progress in the recent past.
Will the hyped UDFAs make an impression?
Two of the undrafted free agents the Vikings signed following the draft landed on Todd McShay’s top UDFA list, including No. 1 Holton Hill. A strong first impression will be especially important for Hill, who was suspended from his Texas team last year and reportedly failed a drug test at the Combine. Hill is an explosive athlete with size and exceptional tackling ability. Those things will show up more at camp, but he needs to impress coaches with his approach during OTAs.
Hercules Mata’afa was originally listed as a linebacker, but the Vikings’ website now says he is a defensive end. Mata’afa was a dominant player at Washington State but doesn’t have the size to play his college position of defensive tackle.
Updates on Pat Elflein’s recovery
KSTP-TV’s Darren Wolfson reported on Twitter that Elflein will not be participating in OTAs. He was injured against the Eagles in the conference title game and had offseason surgery. The Vikings’ starting center is expected to return by training camp. We will be on the lookout to see if anything has changed.
Told no OTA participation next week for #Vikings center Pat Elflein, who had surgery on his left ankle on Jan. 29. But he's progressing very well.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) May 18, 2018
First impressions of Kirk Cousins, Sheldon Richardson and John DeFilippo
Cousins and Richardson are proven NFL players, so OTAs don’t have a whole lot of meaning for them, but it will be their first opportunity to participate in 11-on-11s. We will also hear from DeFilippo for the first time. We have already heard some reaction from players about installing the offense, but this will be the first look at it.