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Vikings mailbag: Receivers, new Vikings and the draft after free agency

By Andrew Krammer

Note: Some of these questions were answered on the latest Purple Podcast with Judd Zulgad, Andrew Krammer and ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling. Send any questions you have on Twitter to @Andrew_Krammer and we’ll use both this blog and the podcast to answer them.

The Vikings’ offseason churns along as they take in pro days, visit with draft prospects and prepare to host their annual Top 30 next week at the Winter Park training facilities. So let’s turn to the draft, where much of the focus falls on receiver for the 31st-ranked passing offense.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN how serious should the vikings be about taking a WR with their 1st rd draft pick? — Jack (@JackDavidDerham) March 25, 2016

AK: They’re evaluating the first-round options. The Vikings’ attention Monday will turn to the pro day at Ole Miss, where receiver Laquon Treadwell is expected to run the 40-yard dash for the first time in front of professional scouts. Receivers coach George Stewart recently took in Baylor’s pro day, and prospect Corey Coleman, in the weeks after interviewing many top options, including TCU’s Josh Doctson, at the scouting combine. Receiver remains unaddressed after the release of Mike Wallace, though the Vikings still have hope for Charles Johnson as they need someone to emerge next to second-year receiver Stefon Diggs. They’ve kicked the tires on some free agents, but I wouldn’t expect an addition soon, especially after Mike Zimmer’s comments at last week’s owners meetings. This year’s draft prospects aren’t getting the attention like 2014’s top group or even last year’s star in Amari Cooper, but the Vikings are doing enough to fall for a prospect if he’s there.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Give me a Danielle Hunter type of player (Thought he was a reach) you see Vikings drafting?

— Judd Zulgad’s Hoodie (@JZHoodie) March 25, 2016

AK: The Vikings’ general manager, Rick Spielman, has placed an outward trust in the coaching staff to develop talent, using last year’s 88th-overall pick on defensive end Danielle Hunter after just 1.5 sacks as a junior at LSU. He would rank second among all rookies with 6.0 sacks after the Vikings’ primarily-outsourced analytics research pointed his way. Hunter scored as an athletic freak compared to his size (height, reach, etc.). This year, a prospect like Texas-San Antonio’s David Morgan is a possible under-the-radar addition. Morgan (6-4, 262) is expected to be a late-round pick out of UTSA’s fledgling program, and has the frame as another possible replacement for Rhett Ellison, currently recovering from a torn patellar tendon. The Vikings do expect second-year tight end MyCole Pruitt to take on a bigger role, and just added Brian Leonhardt in free agency. Though Morgan’s combine could attract after he paired a big body with top numbers in the bench press, 3-cone drill and shuttle runs. Should the Vikings wait to address receiver, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (6-1, 201) also intrigues.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Reconcile Teddy “I did well for what I was asked to do” Zimmer “he needs to be more explosive?”

— Charlie Kane (@CF_Kane) March 25, 2016

AK: Bridgewater walked a tightrope last season. The Vikings were largely Adrian Peterson’s offense, with the quarterback expected to avoid risks while making plays when set up to do so. He succeeded in keeping turnovers down as the Vikings emphasized ball control. Though outside of a Week 15 win against the Chicago Bears, Bridgewater lacked the big numbers some envisioned with Peterson returning to the team. Bridgewater’s remark likely referenced a risk-averse philosophy as the team’s rushing and defensive strengths immediately became clear. At the same time, Zimmer wanted to see Bridgewater give his receivers more opportunities down the field. Bridgewater flashed glimpses of that with tight end Kyle Rudolph, who was also held back by a shorthanded offensive line. They feel addressing the offensive line is the biggest step toward fixing the passing game. Though it’ll be worth questioning how much freedom Bridgewater will have, while seeing how he fares behind a revamped line.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN explain what a nickel pass rusher is that Zimmer was mentioned & draft prospects for this role — Reuben Gosewisch (@RGosewisch) March 25, 2016

AK: Tom Johnson and Brian Robison served this role, which is a strong pass rusher used to replace the nose tackle in passing situations, last season. The Vikings could be looking to take some of the load off Robison’s plate. The veteran turns 33 next month and was a linchpin last season for a line thinned by injuries to defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd. They also dealt with a season-ending injury to backup nose tackle Shamar Stephen. So the Vikings could look to add to the interior, ranging from a top prospect like Ole Miss DE/DT Robert Nkemdiche (6-3, 294) to a later-round talent like Texas DT Hassan Ridgeway (6-3, 303).

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Reggie Nelson is still out there in FA. Any chance Vikings circle back to him?

— Judd Zulgad’s Hoodie (@JZHoodie) March 25, 2016

AK: Doubtful. The Vikings have their veteran addition in ex-Titan Michael Griffin, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal this month. They’ve got a range of competitors now for strong safety between the re-signing of Andrew Sendejo, who started 13 games last season, Griffin and third-year safety Antone Exum Jr. and second-year safety Anthony Harris. Zimmer said he wants the ‘right kind of guy’ next to Harrison Smith, with an eye on Smith doing more in the defense. Griffin could be that guy, or perhaps he’s in the draft. But it’s most likely not Reggie Nelson, who turns 33 in September and could want a better situation for playing time, anyway.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN why is everyone so excited about Andre Smith? i have low expectations, tell me what i’m missing — Jason Smith (@HumanPerson1) March 25, 2016

AK: He’s a former first-round pick at a position of need. Offensive tackle is currently the line’s biggest question mark, this season and beyond, with the top three players — Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt and Andre Smith — on one-year deals. Smith signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with $1 million guaranteed, which is more than what was given in a restructure to Loadholt, the incumbent recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in August. Though Smith carries his own history into the right tackle competition with Loadholt. Smith has reportedly struggled with his weight in the past, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer last summer he was tired of being ‘mediocre.’ The Vikings succeeded in creating competition, though the top two candidates at right tackle carry some baggage.

The post Vikings mailbag: Receivers, new Vikings and the draft after free agency appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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