Questions Answered: Hockenson Update, Draft Need Next Year, Lewis Cine’s Chances

Week 16 vs
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The following questions are about current Minnesota Vikings topics, answered by VikingsTerritory. Today is the May 2nd edition, addressed in a from-the-hip fashion. If you have questions, please email them to [email protected].

Questions Answered: Hockenson Update, Draft Need Next Year, Lewis Cine’s Chances

Also, please note: These are opinion-based responses. Some answers will be incorrect from time to time. But we’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

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Q: It sounds like T.J. Hockenson is progressing well with his injury recovery, so is there any chance he’ll be ready in Week 1?

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Answer: No, probably not.

The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis reported this week, “Hockenson is ahead of schedule in his rehab, but the Vikings are committed to ensuring he is fully healthy before he plays. Last year’s contract cemented the team’s belief that he is one of its cornerstone players. You don’t rush a player like that back from an injury this severe.”

And one month ago, when asked about the realism of Week 1 return, Hockenson replied, “Anything is possible.”

There’s really no reason for Hockenson to rush back to the Vikings’ offense. The club probably knows internally it won’t win a Super Bowl in 2024, so why not ensure Hockenson’s optimal health for the long haul?

We’d say it’s about 15% that Hockenson plays Week 1.

Q: What’s the top draft need next year for the Vikings?

Michigan defensive lineman Mason Graham looks to tackle Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. during the second half of U-M’s 34-13 win in the College Football Playoff national championship game in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. © Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Answer: Defensive tackle. Undoubtedly.

The Vikings will presumably roll with a hodgepodge of Jerry Tillery, Jonah Williams, Jonathan Bullard, Jaquelin Roy, and rookie Levi Drake Rodriguez. That group does not inspire much confidence, at least not on paper.

Minnesota notoriously avoided emphasizing the DT spot with back-to-back coaching regimes. It’s why players like Jonathan Bullard, Armon Watts, and Shamar Stephen always find starters’ jobs. Minnesota typically finds a mid-tier performer at defensive tackle and calls it good.

So, we expect, alas, defensive tackle to be prioritized next draft. We also expect Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to trade down wherever the pick lands to accumulate draft capital after the Dallas Turner trade last week.

It’s also worth noting that next year’s free-agent DT market is puny.

Q: Do you think Lewis Cine will make the 2024 regular season roster?

lewis cine
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A: Yes, ultimately. But we’re not terribly confident.

These are the Vikings’ defensive backs at the moment:

  1. Harrison Smith
  2. Camryn Bynum
  3. Josh Metellus
  4. Byron Murphy
  5. Mekhi Blackmon
  6. Shaquill Griffin
  7. Andrew Booth
  8. Khyree Jackson
  9. NaJee Thompson
  10. Jay Ward
  11. Akayleb Evans
  12. Lewis Cine
  13. Theo Jackson
  14. Dwight McGlothern
  15. Jaylin Williams
  16. Joejuan Williams
  17. A.J. Green III

About 10-12 of those men will make the 53-man roster. Cine is on the bubble, we believe. His status could truly go either way later this summer, but we’d speculate that he will make the cut and get one more shot in 2024.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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