Access Vikings
See more of the story

Thank you for submitting questions for this week's Vikings mailbag. You can always send questions to @Andrew_Krammer on Twitter or andrew.krammer@startribune.com. Listen for answers on the Access Vikings podcast or find them here. Let's get to it.

Q: Which first- or second-year players do you see getting the most snaps this year outside of Christian Darrisaw and Lewis Cine? — @oledustytrail

AK: The defensive shift under coordinator Ed Donatell — from Mike Zimmer's 4-3 defensive front to 3-4 schemes a la Vic Fangio (think Bears, Broncos) — will change the way many positions align and defend. But it should also mean more playing time for defensive backs. Fangio's defenses — for which Donatell was DBs coach and coordinator across three teams in San Francisco, Chicago and Denver — played more nickel defense (five DBs) than Zimmer's Vikings, a lot more in the case of facing 'heavier' offenses. According to Pro Football Focus, the Broncos defense stuck to nickel at a 44% clip against two tight-end groupings across the 2019-2021 seasons — compared to 17% for the Vikings in that span. That could mean a lot of work for new slot corner Chandon Sullivan, or perhaps second-year safety Camryn Bynum if either safety Harrison Smith or Lewis Cine drops into a slot/box role. In that area, perhaps rookie corner Andrew Booth Jr. pushes for the starting job currently held by Cameron Dantzler in OTAs.

Maybe head coach Kevin O'Connell will get creative with second-year running back Kene Nwangwu, whose speed resulted in two kickoffs returned for touchdowns last season. Somebody has to step up as a rotational edge rusher to spell Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith from time to time. Will third-year edge D.J. Wonnum take a step forward? Or could 2021 draft picks Patrick Jones, Janarius Robinson and Kenny Willekes make a mark? I'm also curious to see if second-year receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette's speed translates to a bit role in O'Connell's offense.

Q: Do you expect additional changes in the front office and personnel department? What are your thoughts on the Demitrius Washington hire and how that may affect roles and responsibilities in the front office? — @ryansacksteder

AK: General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hiring Demitrius Washington as vice president of football operations furthers the analytical alignment and Browns-like structure he's sought to carry over to Minnesota. Washington's career path has been in near lock-step with Adofo-Mensah: a finance major with an MBA who worked under Adofo-Mensah as an analytics assistant in San Francisco. Adofo-Mensah has now hired Washington to the same job — VP of football ops — that Adofo-Mensah had under GM Andrew Berry in Cleveland. The Vikings have yet to turn over the scouting department, but changes typically wouldn't happen until after the draft anyway. If there are exits or more additions to come, they'll likely happen soon; Adofo-Mensah looks to get every department on the same page regarding the data-forward approach he's implementing.

Q: Are the Vikings set at receiver with K.J. Osborn, Bisi Johnson and Ihmir Smith-Marsette? Or do you see them making an addition or any new guys challenging for jobs? — Jarred

AK: Osborn proved a lot last season and, at least in my opinion, could be the unchallenged third receiver for O'Connell's offense. But the spots behind Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Osborn are less certain. Johnson is coming off last year's torn ACL and has been a smart, reliable target. But there are some speedy options coming for his job, including Smith-Marsette, rookie Jalen Nailor and special teams contributor Dan Chisena. That should be one of the more intriguing competitions to watch in training camp this summer.

Q: Seems the defense is being designed with speed in mind and with linebackers and safeties who are explosive in their first moves. Is this primarily to take advantage of the fast turf at home? — @vikefromkansas

AK: Speed and attitude. Don't overlook the latter as rookies Cine and Booth have been routinely described by evaluators and Vikings coaches as guys who play and hit with an edge in the secondary. The Vikings have added players on both sides of the ball who rank fairly high in the 10-yard split, or how fast they ran the first 10 yards of the 40-yard dash. Cine, Minnesota's top pick, topped all safeties at the combine with 1.51 seconds. "Those initial bursts of being able to go do your job just a little quicker in those first couple of steps might be the difference between getting a hand on the ball or springing a big run," O'Connell said this week.

Q: What about the tight end group behind Irv Smith? Is Johnny Mundt participating? How has Zach Davidson looked? I wonder if out of any group, this would be where they might bring in a veteran, as it looks thin on paper. — @battl2heaven

AK: Both Smith and Mundt, who is recovering from a torn ACL last season, were doing rehab work off to the side of practice with team trainers during the only OTA session open to reporters this week. Smith, nearly 10 months removed from full meniscus repair, appears farther along as he still rejoined the team to run routes in full-team drills. That means plenty of work for second-year tight end Zach Davidson, a 2021 fifth-round pick, with the offense. He caught a few passes during 7-on-7 passing drills and 11-on-11 work, but didn't have the cleanest grabs in the little work we saw from him. Smith will be the unchallenged main guy with Mundt, the ex-Rams No. 2 tight end, as the backup. I'd only expect another addition if either knee recovery doesn't go as expected this summer.