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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Feb 11, 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.

 

What are the chances that the Vikings move up in the draft to grab a standout wide receiver or even a standout cornerback? Also, what are the chances of the Vikings getting a wide receiver like Mike Wallace in free agency? And would he be a good fit?
-- John
San Diego, CA

I need to be clear before answering this question: I’m not speaking for the team, rather, I’m conveying my personal opinion. With what I’ve observed of this year’s draft class, the wide receiver position is deep, and that leads me to believe that trading up to get one of those receivers is something that will only be done in a unique circumstance. When a particular position is as deep as I perceive the receiver position to be this year, a better course of action is to rely on that depth by staying in your spot or even trading back. I wouldn’t spend resources to move up to grab a player at a deep position unless I viewed that player as a must-have prospect – a perennial All-Pro and a future Hall of Famer.

As for trading up to grab a cornerback, that might be a bit different. I don’t have a great grasp on the talent in this draft at cornerback, so I’ll withhold my opinion until we get closer to the draft.

Going back to the wide receiver position and addressing John’s question about Wallace, there’s no questioning Wallace’s talent. He has elite speed and deep threat ability. He’s also great after the catch, even when he runs short or intermediate routes. Wallace would be a good fit in most offenses because of his ability. While I do believe the Vikings will add talent to the receiver position this offseason, I’m not sure they’ll use free agency as the exclusive or main way to do it. A more prudent course of action is to focus on the draft to do that, a global approach the team took last year in improving the roster and an approach that led to the greatest single-season win increase (seven) in franchise history.

If Christian Ponder progresses to become a better pocket passer and is more consistent, and if the Vikings wide receivers were productive, how would Adrian Peterson then be able to affect the game? When you have a good quarterback and he throws well, there are fewer chances of running the ball for big plays.
-- Paul C.
Duluth, MN

Paul is correct that a more productive passing game could result in fewer chances for big plays by Peterson on the ground. But that’s not a bad “problem” to have. And make no mistake: Peterson can still profoundly impact the game if the Vikings passing game finds its stride.

We need to look no further than the 2009 season, when Brett Favre was the quarterback and guided an explosive Vikings offense, to find an illustration of this. That season, the Vikings ranked first in passer rating, tied for first in passing touchdowns and eighth in passing yards. Yet Peterson still rushed for 1,383 yards (fifth in the NFL) and he ran for 18 touchdowns (first in the NFL).

In last week’s Mailbag, you were asked about former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. He’s listed at 5-9. Is he too small to be dominant at the NFL level? He seems to have the attitude of an Antoine Winfield as far as coming up and hitting guys, and he plays with a chip on his shoulder like St. Louis cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Most mock drafts that I have seen have the “Honey Badger” going late- third to early-fourth round. Being that the Vikings have two fourth-round picks, would you be willing to use the third-round pick on Mathieu?
-- Tim B.
Otsego, MN

We should learn from examples such as Winfield, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, Saints running back Darren Sproles, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, etc. that “too small” is a tag we should think long and hard about before applying to a player with talent. I’m sure Winfield heard “too small” quite a bit along the way to becoming a Pro Bowl cornerback in the NFL. I’m sure there are many who thought Fletcher was “too small” to carve out a 15-year career. So while Mathieu is undersized when compared to many current defensive backs in the NFL or even in this year’s class of defensive backs, I’m not about to discard him because he doesn’t fit the ideal specifications of his positions.

At this point in the pre-draft process and because I’m not privy to much of his character and background information, I can’t say that I wouldn’t take him in the third round. But for the same reasons, I can’t endorse him, either. Down the road, once we are closer to the draft and more information is gathered and perhaps even made public, I may come to a conclusion one way or the other. As of right now, though, I can’t put myself in the “no” camp on Mathieu.

Do you think the Vikings will focus on linebackers in the 2013 NFL Draft? If so, who do you think could be a future potential starter?
-- Brian H.
Chicago, IL

The Vikings won’t focus on linebacker any more than they’ll focus on every other position during the draft. A franchise can’t afford to sleep on a position in a draft and miss a perennial all-star as a result, even if that player doesn’t fit a position of need.

With that being said, there were a couple linebackers at this year’s Senior Bowl that stood out to me – Missouri's Zavier Gooden and Texas A&M's Sean Porter. Here’s one excerpt on each player from our Senior Bowl coverage last month…

Zavier Gooden: He’s listed at just under 6-1 and at 233 pounds, and he can fly around the football field. At first glance, it’s even easy to mistake him for a safety. I’m not sure if it’s fair to categorize him as a tweener (that’s usually not a flattering description for a player), but I would categorize him as a linebacker who plays and looks like a safety.

Sean Porter: Playing one of the outside linebacker spots was Texas A&M’s Sean Porter, a 6-1, 231-pound defender who can run well and isn’t afraid to lay a big hit. Porter is an athletic linebacker, and he made one of the better hits I saw of the week during an 11-on-11 period when he came downhill and blasted a ball-carrier on a good, clean hit.