Hi kids, how is the off-season treating you today? Vikings news has been, for the most part, pretty slow lately. There was word that the Vikes might play a road game against the Rams in China next year, but that was quickly squashed.
As an aside, I'm still bummed the Rams moved to L.A., because that road game would've been here, in St. Louis. And it would have been awesome. Oh well.
Anyway, welcome back to the mailbag, where I answer real life questions from real life Twitter people. Or real life email people. Heck, I'll even answer Twitter questions from bots, unless you're a Microsoft bot that learns how humans act over the Internet. Then I just simultaneously laugh and weep for humanity.
So, how to you get your question in the mailbag? Simple. get on Twitter, and tweet me your question with the hashtag DNMailbag, or #DNMailbag somewhere in the tweet. If you're not on Twitter and want to email me, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you come to my house and knock on my door, random person I've never met in real life, I'll cry Havoc and slip loose the Dog Of War, aka my German Shepherd Retta, and she will end you. Then my wife will yell at ME because YOU bled out on our hardwood floors we just got re-done. You insensitve, uncaring bastard, you.
So yeah, Tweet or email me, okay?
Anyway, let's get to it. Our first question comes from aspiring Marine Zach, who asks:
I thought they did a good job addressing two of their biggest needs: depth at linebacker, and upgrading the offensive line. You can make a strong argument that they should have addressed wide receiver (and they still might)...but you can make a stronger argument that the free agent WR class wasn't all that impressive. I mean, when 'where Reuben Randle goes' is something you're paying attention to, you're probably better to take a pass on WR's. Pass...WR...GET IT?!?! And then you look at the amount of stooopid guaranteed money Mohamed Sanu ($14 mil) and Marvin Jones got ($20 mil), and then you realize these guys have exactly zero 1,000 receiving yard seasons combined...yeah. Pass on WR and get someone in the draft.
So that leaves safety, the biggest need on the defensive side of the ball. Yeah, they signed Michael Griffin from the Titans, but...meh. He's been good in the past, but fairly underwhelming the last couple years. Cincinnati's Reggie Nelson is still out there, and I think he'd be a really solid addition, and add some serious competition to the battle opposite Harrison Smith.
Next up, Mike Jones, who was on staff with me at Off Tackle Empire back in the day. Since we both left OTE, Mike has gone on to become a successful hand model for Palmolive as well as a contributor for Black Heart Gold Pants, and my life...well, it went off the rails long before I left OTE. Anyways, Mike has a very important question:
#DNMailbag Is squirt pee?— Mike (@mikjones24) March 24, 2016
Yes, definitely. Especially Ruby Red Squirt, which is akin to sour piss. My brother Travis loves Ruby Red Squirt, and he mixes it with his whiskey, which combined makes quite possibly the worst mixed drink on the planet. Travis is also a Cowboys fan, and I am forced to love him only because he is my brother. But he's a pretty good dude, despite those two dramatic shortcomings.
Next up, Darren Lunt. Darren, whatcha got?
I'm not one to read Rick Spielman's thoughts and interpret his words into their true meaning...wait...to be honest, I think it's very plausible. If I gambled (I don't), I would bet the odds of him trading down are better than staying put. When you're at 23, you can find a really good player at multiple positions, and the Vikings still have needs to address at multiple positions. Some folks I really respect for their Vikings takes have opined on Twitter and elsewhere that they might even trade completely out of the first round. I don't know that I would be in favor of that, simply because the last time they did that was in 2010. And that draft class, which should be one of the backbones of the team now, only has Everson Griffen left standing. The two second round picks they had, Chris Cook and Toby Gerhart, are long gone, and Cook is out of football completely, the last I heard.
But when you look at the success the Vikings have had with first round draft picks (for the most part) since Spielman got the full time GM gig, it's been a pretty successful formula, particularly getting guys later in round one. 2012 saw them draft Harrison Smith 29th overall, 2013 saw them get Shariff Floyd (23), Xavier Rhodes (25), and Cordarrelle Patterson (29), and 2014 they got Teddy Bridgewater at 32. So yes, I think a trade down is very possible. Just not completely out of the first round, hopefully.
Raconteur, communist, Wisconsin fan and general mischief maker Andy Stravers is up next. Andy, shoot:
No. There is no room for any Wisconsin Badger on the Vikings. The last time we let a Badger anywhere near things, the result was Brooks Bollinger. I'll never get those lost years back, Andy.
What's that? Shepard went to Oklahoma, you say? Oh, well then...look, I'm not a fan overall of getting a WR in round one. But if the Vikings do go in that direction, Shepard is a guy that we kind of already have on the roster in Jarius Wright, I think. they're both the same size (5'10", 195) and they're both most effective out of the slot. So if they go WR in round one, I would think they go after a guy like Josh Doctson.
So to answer your question, yes they do have a place for that type of receiver, but he's already on the roster.
Alex Goble is up next, and Alex has a question about...the Browns?
That's a good question, Alex. But let me flip the question and ask--would the 31 other teams be reluctant to trade for him? If I'm a GM of an NFL team, like say the Vikings, who need a WR for their up and coming young QB, do I take the chance and risk another year long (if not more) suspension? Gordon's talent is undeniable, as we've witnessed first hand as Vikes fans, but man, that's an awful big risk to take for a guy that hasn't been reinstated by the NFL yet.
So I don't know that it's a willingness on the Browns part to trade Gordon, but more an environment of who wants to take the risk and make the trade? Until his status with the NFL is resolved, I don't think anyone will take that risk. But heck, if the Browns can make a good deal, take it, because I still think they draft Carson Wentz anyway.
Our next question comes from the Phantom...but not necessarily the Opera one:
#DNMailbag - I'm constantly reading about the vikes drafting offense; why? What are the chances the vikings go defense in round 1-2?— phantom (@phantomdesign9) March 24, 2016
Yeah, I don't get that either. Well, I kinda do. the defense is in pretty good shape, but with the offensive line issues addressed in free agency, you could also say that about the offense, except at wide receiver. I'm not going to keep beating the drum about my general opposition to receivers in round one, but I think you can make a case that there are a lot of really, really good defensive prospects in this year's draft. And if you agree with that premise, it's very possible the best player available at 23 (or wherever the Vikings draft) will be a defensive guy. And if you're a subscriber to drafting the BPA, which I think the Vikings are, then yeah, the Vikes will go defense.
Troy Podoll is next up in the mailbag:
I really don't know. Berger played at a borderline All-Pro level after being an emergency replacement for John Sullivan at center, and like you said, was the Vikings best offensive lineman in 2015. New players like Alex Boone and Andre Smith are part of it, and another part of it is that Berger was a backup before last year. A very good one, mind you, but still a backup. and as good as he played last year, if John Sullivan is healthy, he's the better center. When you add the Alex Boone signing together with Mike Harris playing pretty well, the guard spots are probably locked up, and that's where Berger has played for most of his time with the Vikings. That said, I do know Mike Zimmer has said the only starter on the line right now is Boone, so I'm not going to count Berger out.
Nate is up next, asking about the record next year:
Minnesota went 11-5 last year against what I think was probably a tougher schedule than they'll face in 2016. The road games other than their divisional opponents are Philly, Washington, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Carolina. Their five non-divisional home opponents are Dallas, New York Giants, Houston, Indianapolis, and Arizona.
Looking at that slate of opponents, plus the fact Detroit, Chicago, and Green Bay really haven't made a whole lot of noise so far in the off-season, an 11-5 record or better seems very doable.
Finally, we'll let Jack Jones get the last question in for today:
@purplebuckeye Do you think there is a chance that the Vikings don't take a WR in the draft and instead address another need like LT?— Jack Jones (@CAFCJJ) March 24, 2016
I don't know that LT is really a 'need'. I get that a lot of Vikings fans view it as a 'want', but I think the Vikings feel that if Matt Kalil can't get it done, they'll try Andre Smith over there. And really, I don't see the Vikings drafting a LT to replace Kalil. for all the arguments people have against Kalil, he wasn't terrible, and there's no guarantee that they guy you draft to replace him will be any better. Chances are, unless you get a Joe Thomas clone, he'll be worse.
With all the moves they've made in free agency to address the offensive line, I'd be really surprised if they drafted a LT at 23 over a WR or a defensive player. Now if you're just talking the draft overall, I think they get both positions, but o-line guys they'll probably wait and address in mid to late rounds.