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I know we would like to build through the draft and we have a lot of talent on the depth chart, but acquiring LB Brian Urlacher in free agency would give us another advantage by weakening another division foe. What are the chances?
-- Carlos M.
I could be proven wrong on this at any moment if Urlacher signs somewhere, but my guess at this point is that we may not see Urlacher land with a team until after next month’s draft. We’re getting to the point right now in the offseason calendar where the draft is taking center stage within NFL facilities. Teams have to ask themselves if signing Urlacher now would prevent them from finding a middle linebacker in the draft who could end up being a 10-year starter. Look at the Bears, for example. Had Chicago filled its hole at middle linebacker with a veteran free agent back in 2000, would they have selected Urlacher – a future Hall of Famer – in the first round that year? It’s safe to assume that they wouldn’t have.
At picks Nos. 23 and 25 in the first round, the Vikings should garner a couple of solid prospects (providing they don't trade down with one of them), especially on the defensive side of the ball. If by some miracle S Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) is available, do you think the Vikings will grab him? The signing of WR
-- Alvin B.
Interesting thought on Vaccaro. With Smith being drafted in the first round just last year, my sense is that the Vikings would rather spend a first-round pick on a different level of the defense – defensive line, linebacker or cornerback. At the same time, we know that Vikings GM Rick Spielman is a stickler on two things with regard to the draft: 1) taking the best player available and 2) finding value. So if Vaccaro is the best available player at the time the Vikings are on the clock and if Spielman can’t trade out of that spot, then it’s entirely possible the Vikings will take a safety in the first round for the second consecutive year.
I don’t agree that the signing of Jennings two weeks ago means the Vikings will automatically wait to draft a receiver until the middle rounds. Receiver is still as strong a candidate as any to be addressed in the first round (best available player strategy).
Do you think it's possible that the Vikings would draft wide receivers with their two first-round picks?
-- Markos T.
Cottage Grove, MN
I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point, so it’s technically possible. But I would also say it’s unlikely. With the signing of Jennings, the Vikings gained flexibility in the draft because now they aren't as desperate for a playmaker at the receiver position. Even if the Vikings (or any other NFL team) were desperate for a playmaker at receiver, using a pair of first-round picks on the same position is turning away the opportunity to help your team in multiple ways.
Why have we not heard more about Tennessee WR Justin Hunter as a draft prospect for the Vikings? He put up great stats at the Combine. He's young, tall and fast! He has a good attitude and interviewed well. He seems like a good fit for the Vikings, whether we keep Harvin or not. What do you think?
Ocean Springs, MS
There’s a lot to like about Hunter’s skill set and potential. Part of the reason the hype around Hunter has subsided is that he’s not the highest-rated receiver prospect on his own team – that goes to Cordarrelle Patterson. That’s the beauty of this year’s receiver class, though. It’s deep, and there are going to be receivers available in the second and third rounds (and beyond) who stand as good a chance to make a short-term and/or long-term impact in the NFL as the receivers taken early in the draft.
I saw Hunter up close at the Combine, and he reminded me a lot of Sidney Rice when he was coming out of college. Hunter measured in at 6-4, 196 pounds, and you can see just by looking at him that he has room to grow in his frame. Hunter had seven touchdowns on just 16 receptions as a freshman, displaying promise as a game-changing receiver. But an ACL injury cut his 2011 season short. The good news is that Hunter came back strong in 2012 by hauling in 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns, solid numbers when you consider that Patterson, a fellow junior, had a breakout season and took some of his touches away.
There’s a lot to like about Hunter.
Do you think that it would be best to pick a wide receiver with our first pick and then use the rest of the draft to build on our defense, preferably the defensive line or secondary? DT
There’s no question that young, impressionable defensive players would be exposed to great examples by being around Allen and Williams. The Vikings have six picks in the first four rounds. If a receiver was one of the first three picks, then I can see where using the other five selections on the defense would go a long way toward improving the depth and talent level of the defense.
With that said, it’s not a wise strategy to predetermine which positions or areas of the team you’re going to address with certain draft picks. It’s more prudent for teams to assess the status of the board at all times and choose the best player available when they’re on the clock. This is the best way to improve the overall talent level on your roster and it’s the best way to avoid selecting players who turn out to be busts.
Do you think there is a chance that the Vikings will trade up for Alabama OG Chance Warmack? I know offensive guard isn't the team’s biggest need, but with the Vikings style of play I think adding him to
-- Derek L.
There are some who believe Warmack is not just one of the best offensive linemen in this draft, but that he’s one of the better players overall in this draft. Unfortunately for those who want to see the Vikings make a move up to grab Warmack, I don’t see that happening at this point. This is such a deep draft, and while the Vikings have the flexibility (11 selections, six in the first four rounds) to make a giant leap up the draft board, my sense is that such a move would not be made to grab a top-flight offensive linemen. With the club already heavily-invested in the offensive line (Matt Kalil – first-round pick; John Sullivan recent contract extension; Phil Loadholt recent re-signing), it might make more sense for the Vikings to address a different area of the team after making such a bold move up the draft board.