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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mailbag: Defensive line in the draft, top re-signing and receiver shuffle?

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, or email, and we’ll use both the blog and podcast to answer.

The Vikings are set to host 30 prospects this week on official pre-draft visits with more than three weeks remaining before the first round begins. Top receiver prospects Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell will be among them, though nobody is a certainty at No. 23. We’ll address that and more in the latest mailbag.

@Andrew_Krammer Zimmer is known for rotating his D line. With the new additions, do you see him doing the same twith the O line?

— Logan Koenig (@MisterrFootball) March 31, 2016

AK: The Patriots rotated offensive linemen (by series) recently, and it has apparently worked well at times, though even Bill Belichick said settling on five healthy starters would ‘probably be a good thing.’ Just like the Patriots, the Vikings dealt with injuries and inexperience and instead opted for continuity with the same five starting all 17 games. They’re looking to innovate on offense, but rotating the line likely won’t be part of that.

However, the Vikings could add to the defensive line rotation this month as they’ve recently dealt with injuries to defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph, who had toe surgery in January. In turn, the Vikings leaned on 31-year-old Tom Johnson and 32-year-old Brian Robison to plug the inside of the line. Mike Zimmer and Spielman have talked up the draft’s defensive line depth this offseason, and coaches or scouts have recently met with Indiana DT Darius Latham, UTEP DE Roy Robertson-Harris and Florida Atlantic DT Trevon Coley, according to Walter Football. Obviously a deeper draft class means more prospects to sort, and they continue to dig for possible additions.

@Andrew_Krammer What is the pre-draft depth chart at flanker, slot WR and split end? Who lines up with Diggs in 2 WR sets? J Wright? — Josh Henig (@josh_henig) March 31, 2016

AK: Mike Wallace’s release frees up last year’s 751 snaps as the primary flanker in Norv Turner’s offense. The Vikings haven’t addressed the receiver position yet, and are expected to make an addition during this month’s NFL Draft. Currently, I’d expect second-year receiver Stefon Diggs to move to Wallace’s flanker role with the starting split end decided by a draft pick, Charles Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson. Jarius Wright, who signed a four-year extension in September, is capable of lining up at every spot, but should remain the primary slot receiver.

@Andrew_Krammer Zim said he wanted stadium to be loud. was it engineered as such, acoustically? or just throw a roof on it & call it a day? — Jason Smith (@HumanPerson1) March 31, 2016

AK: That’s the goal, but they’re trailblazing a bit here. The transparent ETFE roof, covering 60 percent of U.S. Bank Stadium, is the first sports venue in the United States to have such material. So, the first NFL fan base to test it out will be in Minnesota. The Vikings say the new material is “more acoustically reflective” than the Metrodome’s fabric roof, indicating the 73,000-seat venue could be loud. The NFL’s closest seats, set 41 feet from the sideline, should also contribute.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd I’m seeing a lot of people who think that 84 will be much less effective with new rule. I disagree. Opinions? — Cheezle (@UPhxpyros) March 31, 2016

AK: In reference to the one-year rule moving touchbacks to the 25-yard line: this really depends on how the opposing team treats him. Should teams continue kicking into the end zone, the Vikings face the decision of rolling the dice with Cordarrelle Patterson or starting at the 25. Their average start (after kickoff) at the 24.6-yard line ranked second in the league, per Football Outsiders, but now they’ll gain more with a knee. NFL officials have spoke publicly about the rule backfiring, should coaches tell kickers to aim shallow and bet on coverage. If that happens to Patterson, he could see some better looks.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Is this a draft year the Vikings could benefit by trading back? #10picksvs8picks

— Nicholas Kulczycki (@NickKulczycki) March 25, 2016

AK: One thing to consider when speculating about the Vikings’ early draft activity is their preference for the fifth-year option on first-round contracts. I’ve fielded a few reader inquiries about trading out of the first round, and I just don’t see that happening. Under Spielman, the Vikings prioritize the draft and aim for 10 picks, which they’ve made in each of the last two drafts. They currently sit with eight picks and smart money falls on a trade or two being made later this month. But trading back on the first day isn’t a guarantee, given there’s only eight first-round picks behind them and much will depend on who is still available after 22 selections. Now there’s another conversation to be had about trading up, given they’re coming off an 11-win season and could feel they’re a player or two away from graduating beyond first-round playoff exit.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Which Viking resigning was the most important? — Jason (@vikingsjazzfan) March 31, 2016

AK: This made for an interesting discussion on the podcast, since there weren’t any major internal free agents this offseason. My vote went to offensive lineman Mike Harris, because he had made 22 starts in two seasons for the Vikings and provides competition should Brandon Fusco move back to right guard. Fixing the offensive line has been the Vikings’ top priority this offseason, and retaining Harris was an underrated step. There’s a case to be made for cornerback Terence Newman, who played well at age 37 and provides depth behind young corners Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. A healthy Rhett Ellison would’ve also been in consideration as a hard-nosed tight end, though he continues to recover from a torn patellar tendon suffered in January.

Email: “It seems to me that the problems in the passing game last year were not necessarily a result of need at the WR position. Do you think the team could be well served for the 2016 season if its top two picks were used on o-line, safety or third linebacker positions who could immediately compete for starting roles?”
– Mark

AK: Receiver has been the popular outside pick for the Vikings, and I think they’re open to taking one with their first pick in this month’s draft. Spielman has been spotted at pro days for top prospects in Ohio State’s Michael Thomas, Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell, TCU’s Josh Doctson and Baylor’s Corey Coleman. Should they wait to address receiver, there are a couple positions that also make sense for a first-round pick. Offensive tackle would top my list. The Vikings’ top three tackles are all one one-year deals, and the long-term future at right tackle is up in the air between Phil Loadholt, Andre Smith and T.J. Clemmings. Drafting a right tackle who could move to left tackle, where Matt Kalil enters a pivotal 2016 season, may be an option.

They also won’t turn away a great pass rusher, and Mike Zimmer recently called the nickel rusher “a really important position” for the Vikings defense. As previously noted, they relied on a couple veterans in that role last season and could look to add youth inside. At safety, I think fans wanting an early-round addition could be disappointed, given the recent investments in Andrew Sendejo and Michael Griffin, as well as the presence of developing players in Antone Exum Jr. and Anthony Harris.

The post Mailbag: Defensive line in the draft, top re-signing and receiver shuffle? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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