Thank you for submitting questions for this week's Vikings mailbag. You can always send questions to @Andrew_Krammer on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org, and listen for answers on the weekly Access Vikings podcast or find them here on Friday mornings. Let's get to it.
Q: How many impactful players are on the Vikings roster from the 2018-2020 draft classes? — @smittybard
AK: The conservative estimate is seven out of 35 draft picks. Those players are receiver Justin Jefferson, guard Ezra Cleveland, defensive end D.J. Wonnum, receiver K.J. Osborn, tight end Irv Smith Jr., tackle Brian O'Neill and tight end Tyler Conklin. That leaves out one starter – struggling third-year center Garrett Bradbury – and a few developing reserves who could make bigger impacts down the road like corner Kris Boyd, safety Josh Metellus, receiver Bisi Johnson and running back Alexander Mattison. The first-round track record has been the biggest issue with Bradbury playing below expectations, corners Jeff Gladney and Mike Hughes no longer on the roster, and tackle Christian Darrisaw sidelined by injury.
Q: When will left tackle Christian Darrisaw be back? — @varichak
AK: Not this week, and maybe not the week after that. Darrisaw just wrapped his second straight week of limited practices, which is a good sign he's been able to stay on the field following the Aug. 12 core muscle operation. But the 315-pound left tackle still has to work his way back into shape and start taking team drills before being asked to play every snap in his first NFL game. Perhaps there's a chance the Vikings activate Darrisaw without starting him at some point, but Zimmer said earlier this month, "it's going to be a long process." That process is just getting started, meaning tackle Rashod Hill will stay in the lineup.
Q: Where is the play-action passing game? I know they often had a long way to go thanks to penalties, but there were no big plays. Jefferson was a non-factor. — Evan
AK: The Bengals defense attacked the Vikings' play-action bootlegs with a backside defender in Cousins' face nearly every time. Cincinnati used multiple fronts, including four-, five- and six-wide alignments to stop the wide-zone running game and bootlegs. The problem won't go away. Zimmer said he's expecting the same defensive fronts in Arizona, where the Cardinals defense just shut down Titans running back Derrick Henry. First-year coordinator Klint Kubiak will have to design a way to block those edge rushers on the bootlegs, or rely on other ways to spring loose Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. It'd also help if they got Dalvin Cook going. If he started hitting backside seams, defenders might not abandon their running lane so quickly to attack upfield.
Q: How are they going to stop Kyler Murray, and why will they fail? – Ryan
AK: Ha. Sunday's matchup looks daunting after Murray was as elusive as ever while combining for five touchdowns – four passing and one rushing – and taking just two sacks on nearly 40 dropbacks. It'll be interesting to see how Zimmer and the defensive coaching staff try to keep Murray from hurting them with scramble drills. Defensive backs keeping their eyes on the receivers will be a key. But linebacker Anthony Barr has previously been used to spy mobile quarterbacks from Russell Wilson to Aaron Rodgers. It's what Barr was doing when he infamously broke Rodgers' collarbone in 2017. He spied Rodgers until he left the pocket, then took his shot. Barr still isn't practicing this week due to a knee injury, making him unlikely to play in Arizona. All three starting linebackers are on the injury report, as Eric Kendricks was held out Thursday with a quadriceps issue and Nick Vigil remained limited by an ankle injury.
Q: Who is the leading guy opposite Danielle Hunter in the defensive line? — @verstrata1
AK: It was really a group effort on Sunday, and more will be expected from Hunter moving forward, too. Everson Griffen looked good in 28 snaps, doing more than just situationally pass rushing as he replaced Hunter or D.J. Wonnum on early downs. The 33-year-old Griffen showed some of that familiar burst and power in his pass rush. Co-coordinator Andre Patterson said he didn't play Stephen Weatherly enough after the reserve impressed with his physicality against the run. It was an unremarkable opener for Wonnum, now the starter, but Patterson will maintain a rotation around him.
Q: Was Patrick Peterson as good as it seemed Sunday? — Ellis
AK: Joe Burrow wasn't looking Peterson's way very often, as he was targeted just three times, according to Pro Football Focus, or as many passes as Kris Boyd saw in just four coverage snaps. Peterson only had one tackle, stopping an underneath pass on a third-and-19 play. A quiet day is typically a good one at cornerback, but we also didn't see Peterson tested much. That could change Sunday in Arizona, where Peterson was a three-time All-Pro pick in 10 seasons for the Cardinals. "They know him," Patterson said. "They know the good and the bad about him. So you're probably gonna see some ways that they know how to attack him, because he's been there so long. So that works both ways; he knows them, too."