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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Jan 21, 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.

 

With Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o's status uncertain, do you think there is a possibility that he slips down to the Vikings (at #23 overall)? Maybe the better question is: Do you think the Vikings would/ should jump at him if available?
-- Jesse C.
Urbana, Ohio

It’s hard to know at this point how the tumult surrounding Te’o right now will ultimately impact his draft stock. It’s tempting to formulate a strong opinion about that right now, but the more prudent move for someone in my position is to sit back, wait for more information to come in, and then promote an opinion once we get closer to the draft.

While what’s happened so far with regard to the controversy surrounding Te’o is significant, what is more important with regard to where he’ll ultimately be drafted is how Te’o handles himself going forward. He has now entered the part of the pre-draft process where he’ll be heavily scrutinized by NFL teams, and his performance during the interview process with teams will also be a factor in determining where he’ll be drafted.

What side of the ball do you see the Vikings wanting to improve the most with that 23rd pick? Also, with GM Rick Spielman’s skill at trading picks, any chance the Vikings try and get a pick earlier in the 2nd round to grab another impact player that slipped through the 1st round?
-- Josh D.
Eden Prairie, MN

I don't have a strong feeling as to what side of the ball the Vikings will address with their 1st-round pick. I also don't think Spielman will look at it that way. Rather, he'll take the best player available at the time of the Vikings pick. This appears to be, from my perspective anyway, a deep draft in terms of defensive talent. There's not a lack of talent or depth offensively, it's just shaping up to be a great draft for defensive players.

As for trading back up into the early part of the 2nd round, I can indeed see this happening if there's a player the Vikings really like, as was the case last year when the Vikings traded back up into the 2nd round to grab S Harrison Smith. The Vikings do have an extra 4th rounder and an extra 7th rounder this year, so those pieces could be used as trading chips. Also keep in mind that it’s possible the Vikings will trade back from #23 overall if there are several players on the board they like. Doing this will yield additional draft selections and can still ensure the team gets a player they want.

I would like to focus on the defense. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson. I think they have a lot of upside, but the Vikings defense is another good linebacker and another cornerback away from being elite.
-- SSgt Anthony B.
Omaha, NE

I believe the Vikings need improved play from the linebacker position. Chad Greenway has been solid, of course, but I anticipate the Vikings working hard to get more production from the other two linebacker positions. That doesn’t necessarily mean Brinkley and Henderson are out, though. There’s no rule that says one or both of them can’t improve enough to be the answer at their position. Brinkley recovered from his injury in 2011 to be the team’s starting middle linebacker, so you have to respect the equity he has invested in this team. And Henderson is a great example of a guy who started at the bottom as an undrafted rookie free agent and has climbed the ladder to become a starter; you have to respect that, as well.

I do expect the Vikings to add depth to the linebacker position this offseason, though, which will set the stage for a robust competition at a couple of spots. That will be good for everyone involved – Brinkley and Henderson, the newly acquired players, and the Vikings defense as a whole.

I believe that Everson Griffen is qualified to be the starter opposite Jared Allen. I'm not saying Brian Robison is bad – as a matter of fact, I believe he is very underrated. But if I'm not mistaken, Griffen had as many sacks as Robison and he wasn't a full-time starter. Just wondering your thoughts.
-- Chris L.

Actually, Robison had 8.5 sacks and Griffen had 8.0 sacks. But Griffen had more production per snap because Robison played roughly 240 more snaps during the season. Both are clearly worthy of significant snaps, though, and I anticipate that regardless of who starts games, they’ll both continue to play major roles on defense. I like Robison’s motor and consistency, and I like Griffen’s versatility as a guy who can rush from the inside as part of the nickel package and as a guy who can drop into coverage – remember his pick-6 against St. Louis?

I also wonder if Griffen is as efficient as he is because he’s not playing as many snaps as Robison. It probably serves Griffen well that when he’s in the game, he has more energy and fresher legs than the linemen trying to block him.