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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Feb 18, 2013

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the offseason we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

While I understand that waiting for the draft and filling our positional needs there is cheap, it also takes time to develop those players. With that said, why do the Vikings continue to try to fill team needs via the draft rather than spending some money in free agency? Why not take a chance and spend some money on a player like WR Mike Wallace. This team has the ability to win now with a couple of star additions.
-- Matt V.
Leola, South Dakota

The Vikings continue to build their team through the draft because that’s a tried and true philosophy. Look at the Baltimore Ravens, who just won the Super Bowl. The vast majority of their key players were acquired not through free agency, but through the draft. Quarterback Joe Flacco, linebackers Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, running back Ray Rice, wide receiver Torrey Smith and safety Ed Reed were all originally drafted by the Ravens. Yes, there are players on the Ravens who played key roles and who were acquired via free agency (center Matt Birk, receiver Anquan Boldin), but generally speaking the core of the Ravens is comprised of players drafted by the Ravens.

With that being said, free agency can be a way to supplement your team. But teams need to be picky in free agency and they also need to spend wisely. Look at some of the big-spending teams in free agency of late – Buffalo, Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Those teams have not enjoyed sustained success while relying on free agency to fill needs.

Building through the draft may not have the sizzle to it that building through free agency does. Building through the draft may not fulfill the needs impulse-driven fans. But building through the draft is the right way to do it.

What is your assessment of Charlie Johnson’s play this year at left guard? Do you see that position as a need to fill this offseason?
-- Rob
West Coast Viking

Charlie Johnson’s ability to transition from left tackle to left guard in his second season with the Vikings was an important part of the team’s success in 2012. It might seem like an unremarkable aspect of the big picture, but a position change is a challenge and Johnson handled it well. He was a steady presence for the Vikings at left guard, but perhaps more importantly he was a steady and reliable veteran teammate for rookie left tackle Matt Kalil.

As is the case with every position, the Vikings will look for talent in the draft at offensive guard and if they identify a player in the draft who fits the team’s scheme, they will consider selecting him. I don’t view left guard as a position where the Vikings are set on entering 2013 with a new starter, but I also don’t think the team is averse to adding competition to that spot, either.

I know it's still early in the draft process, but is there a specific position you believe we will look to upgrade at any point in the draft? This being said, I realize that you always want to take the best player available.
-- Chris L.

It may be hard for some to believe, but teams truly don’t enter a draft saying “We need to find a player at this position and we need to find him in this round.” Teams with a need at starting quarterback may feel the need to draft a quarterback, but they’re not going to draft a quarterback with whom they’re not comfortable just because they have a need there. That’s how you wind up reaching for a player and essentially wasting a pick.

With that said, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman did make a couple of relevant observations on this topic while meeting with reporters at Winter Park on Friday. Spielman identified offensive line and wide receiver as deep positions on offense in this year’s draft, and he identified defensive line and perhaps safety as deep defensive positions in this year’s draft. Ultimately, though, you can bet that Spielman will error on the side of taking the best player available at the time. The two best examples where Spielman has proven that’s the philosophy he goes with are the selections of Adrian Peterson in 2007 and Kyle Rudolph in 2010. In both instances, the Vikings didn’t have a “need” at those respective positions, but in both instances they took a player at that position because they were too good to pass up at that point. And both times those decisions turned out to be A .

Is WR Titus Young an option for the Vikings in free agency? He's young and has already proven himself. He and Percy Harvin would be a nice confidence-building duo for Christian Ponder and would fit our system well.
-- Ian S.
Virginia

By definition Young is an option for the Vikings – and for all NFL teams – because he’s an unrestricted free agent and he’s on the open market. The fact that Young has been released by two different teams in a matter of two weeks is not necessarily a great reflection of where Young is at right now. But the NFL is full of players who’ve found success after a second or third chance, so I don’t believe it’s wise for all NFL teams to simply write Young off at this point.

As it relates to Young and the Vikings specifically, though, you also have to consider that both Percy Harvin and Jarius Wright are on the roster and both of those players may bring a similar skill set to the table as Young. So from that standpoint, there may not be room on the roster for all three. Granted, it’s not necessarily a good idea to get caught up in which receivers play the X position and which receivers play the Z position. The bottom line is you want good football players on your team, and if Spielman and the coaching staff think Young is a good football player who fits the profile of what the Vikings are looking for, I’m sure they’ll consider signing him.