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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mailbag: ‘Best-case scenario,’ draft needs and expectations

By Andrew Krammer

Note: Some of these questions were answered on a recent 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 often use both the blog and podcast to answer.

All pre-draft visits are officially over. Players are in the building for official workouts and general manager Rick Spielman is set to address the media on Tuesday. And in one week, the Vikings reach the spring’s endgame by selecting a new crop of rookies. In less than two weeks, they’ll need to inform three players with fifth-year options (we addressed that last week).

So let’s begin this week’s mailbag with a question about the ‘best-case scenario’ for the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN first and second round best case scenario?

— Bradley Peterson (@BradleyPeters13) April 13, 2016

AK: With all their work on receivers, which included at least six pre-draft visits, the Vikings may have their pick of the receivers at No. 23 with the Houston Texans at No. 22 being some of the only competition. In my opinion, they need to add an instant player at receiver. So the best-case scenario is landing either Laquon Treadwell or Josh Doctson. That’s based simply on presumed fit with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has struggled to find a consistent downfield connection in Minnesota. Bridgewater’s sputtered downfield success has come with the long reaches of Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph. And he could use more of the same with Treadwell or Doctson. In the second round, the Vikings could find some value for the offensive line and there’d be no questions here if that’s the direction. However, I think they’re happy with the recent additions. They’d make a good unit even better with a pass-rushing defensive tackle in the second round. And there could be great value in a deep talent pool. Two names I’m watching after the first round are Mississippi State’s Chris Jones (6-6, 310) and Ohio State’s Adolphus Washington (6-3, 301).

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Experts have Vikes taking WR make case for drafting a LB

— Sydney McSweeney (@sydmcs) April 13, 2016

AK: As we just went over, put me in the pool of ‘experts’ saying receiver is the way to go at No. 23. I can’t make a case for using the third high-value pick in three years at linebacker, especially when the Vikings played a two-linebacker defense more than 60 percent of snaps last season. Now, I think they could look to add a mid-round linebacker with an eye beyond this season. They’re flexible outside of Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. It’s Chad Greenway’s last run and they gave Emmanuel Lamur a two-year deal to prove he can be a long-term option. After receiver, needs include offensive tackle, defensive tackle, cornerback and center. They need additional defensive back depth, though I struggle seeing another first-round pick going there.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN is there a “character issue” guy that falls that the Vikes could pull the trigger? Ole Miss DE? — Nicholas Robinson (@NickTwinsFan) April 13, 2016

AK: Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (6-3, 294) from Ole Miss would be intriguing if he’s there in the second round, and the Vikings are comfortable with his December incident that ended with a marijuana possession charge after falling from a hotel ledge. He’s big (10 3/4? hands) with a long reach (33 7/8? arms) and was named second team All-American last season after a career-high seven tackles for a loss. Though it’ll take a massive fall for him to be there at No. 54, because I don’t see it with the first pick. As previously mentioned, look for a guy like Aldophus Washington out of Ohio State. Again given the organization is comfortable with his off-field incidents, Washington had 17.5 tackles for losses (8.5 sacks) over the past two seasons and would instantly beef up the Vikings’ interior rotation with Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd. He may have slipped down draft boards after a Dec. 10 arrest for solicitation and Fiesta Bowl suspension.

@Andrew_Krammer is there any one person – player or coach – more valuable than Zimmer to our organization?

— Zachary Johnson (@ZahJayJay) April 13, 2016

AK: This is always an interesting subject for all teams, given the subjective nature of value. Certainly when you’re divvying up reasons for the Vikings’ sudden turnaround, you start with head coach Mike Zimmer. His hiring was the first of many good decisions by the organization over two years, and he didn’t get enough credit for his role in easing Adrian Peterson’s concerns a year ago. The results, which includes some of the league’s top marks in the red zone and third downs, are a staggering improvement from the Vikings’ 2013 woes. GM Rick Spielman and contracts guru Rob Brzezinski deserve mention. I’ve ranked my top five on the field, though football is still the major sport where coaching has the biggest impact on outcomes.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN Would selecting Derrick Henry in Rd 2 to create a bruising 1-2 punch with AP be a smart move? — Matt Holmes (@MattHolmes2) April 13, 2016

AK: While I’ll never say never, this is pretty close. They can’t justify taking a running back that early based on current needs and I would be surprised to see Derrick Henry available at 54th overall. Of course, at some point the talent outweighs the need. But perhaps the most important point is the Vikings are trying to create a passing game, not a bruising 1-2 punch. Offensive line and receiver would get looks before running back, where Jerick McKinnon could be in line for a bigger role next season. McKinnon averaged more than eight yards per touch over the last four games and meshes well with Teddy Bridgewater.

@Andrew_Krammer @1500ESPNJudd @GoesslingESPN what are some realistic numbers for Teddy this year, to feel like he made the leap?

— Yinka Ayinde (@Saxyprince) April 13, 2016

AK: The Vikings need Teddy Bridgewater to improve from 14 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, though that metric alone isn’t what I’d judge for his improvement. His security with the football gets appreciated. At the same time, Mike Zimmer wants to see more shots down the field. According to Football Outsiders, Bridgewater ranked fourth in ‘failed completions’ last season. It’s a sliding scale explained here and points out either a restrained offense or a tendency for safe completions. They need more explosive plays from Bridgewater, however that comes. The Vikings will likely add another playmaker for him in the draft. Afterward, they’ll begin piecing the offense together on the field and we’ll truly be able to see his role and judge expectations for the 2016 season. At some point, the pendulum will shift from Peterson to Bridgewater.

The post Mailbag: ‘Best-case scenario,’ draft needs and expectations appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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