Vikings: Top three training camp goals

Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports Images

Focus starts on offense with new quarterbacks and more offensive line turnover

EAGAN, Minn. – From the top:

--Make Kirk comfortable. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo needs to further advance the No. 1 offseason priority: Molding a new offense around new starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins has worked hard to develop chemistry with receivers Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and even slow-developing former first-rounder Laquon Treadwell. But he'll need more work with running back Dalvin Cook, a versatile weapon who has been limited as he returns from a torn ACL suffered in Week 4 last season. If healthy, Cook could be used as a receiver in much the same way as New Orleans uses Alvin Kamara.

--Establish the O-line. The line was greatly improved last season but wore down late in the season as injuries mounted. The right side of the line is the biggest concern since the retirement of right guard Joe Berger. The initial plan is to have Mike Remmers move from tackle to guard permanently. That will require Rashod Hill to play with more consistency at right tackle. He has shown the ability to be an adequate spot starter, but his play slid toward the end of last season. The Vikings used their second-round pick on Brian O'Neill, a right tackle who probably needs a year to add NFL-caliber strength.

--Pick a kicker. The assumption is Daniel Carlson already has won the kicking job. After all, the Vikings traded two sixth-round picks to move up into the fifth round for Carlson. He's a strong-legged prospect, but the Vikings are hedging their bet by keeping veteran Kai Forbath around to compete in training camp. It's Carlson's job to lose, but he's not a lock. After the Blair Walsh meltdown a couple of years ago, the Vikings know all-too-well what can happen when a kicker goes south. Forbath, who stepped in for Walsh back then, was better than Walsh, but just shaky enough for the Vikings to make Carlson the highest-drafted kicker in franchise history.


--Nickel back. Mackensie Alexander, a promising but inconsistent young player, was a second-round draft pick in 2016. But instead of locking down the nickel job and pushing Trae Waynes for more playing time, he's in serious danger of dropping down the depth chart further. Despite some enviable depth at corner heading into the draft, the Vikings still used their first-round pick on Mike Hughes, who will handle the kick return duties, possibly the punt return duties and push Alexander and veteran stalwart Terence Newman for the nickel job. That would give the Vikings' sub packages three first-round draft picks at corner. Newman turns 40 in September but appears to have one more year left in him as a part-time corner and safety.