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Monday Morning Mailbag: Cook's Future Workload & Evaluating Draft-Day Trades

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Why do the Vikings allow Dalvin Cook to dictate time to the other running backs to come on the field when he gets tired? Why didn't we run a two-back system where you can utilize both Cook and Alexander Mattison so we aren't tiring one out throughout the year?

— Corey Alexander in Richmond, Virginia

Thanks to Corey for starting us off with a question about Dalvin. I thought it was timely to begin with this one because of Dalvin's participation in the virtual 2021 Pro Bowl this past weekend, and for the fact that he was honored byTwin Cities media members last week with the 2020 Korey Stringer "Good Guy" Award.

He was actually asked about his high volume of touches in 2020, and had this to say:

"Like I said in the past [about] the touches and everything, once I'm feeling it, it's like the touches don't really matter. Coming out of that type of year, you build your body up extra hard, you hit the weight room a little harder, and you just do things a little harder," Cook said. "I think the injuries or whatever, that comes with the game. I'm going to turn it loose, and I'm going to have fun with it.

"Next year is going to be an opportunity for me to explode again," Cook added. "I'm going to take full advantage of the opportunity by working my tail off this offseason so I can be ready for 16, 17 games – however many games I've gotta go. I'm going to be ready to go, and it should be a fun year for the Vikings."

I've noted this in a previous Mailbag, but Dalvin had 356 total touches in 2020 for 1,918 yards from scrimmage and 17 total scores. It's easy to see why he made his second straight Pro Bowl.

I'd disagree with the notion that Dalvin personally waves people off in terms of playing time, as that call is made by the coaches. But Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has said numerous times before that when the game is on the line, he expects No. 33 to be out there.

Mattison had a bit of an unlucky 2020 season while dealing with a concussion and sudden appendix surgery. But he still averaged 4.5 yards per carry and showed off his tough running style on 96 carries.

It's no secret the Vikings want to stick with their run-first scheme, even with the retirement of Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak.

View the best running back photos of the 2020 season from Vikings photographers.

This isn't to say that Cook and Mattison should split carries, but if Cook's overall touches go down and Mattison's (and Justin Jefferson's) go up in 2021, perhaps that would make Minnesota's offense even more explosive than it was in 2020.

Or, perhaps a little bit more of a rotation could be possible if the Vikings are better positioned on the scoreboard in 2021 games than they were in 2020. Minnesota handed the ball to Cook on eight straight runs in overtime to barely fend off a Jacksonville team that finished 1-15.

Cook has no problem being a workhorse and has shown he can thrive in that role. But Mattison has also fared well when given the chance, too. Perhaps the Vikings take Corey's suggestion and use them as more of a two-headed attack in 2021.

Hi Eric! A question for you: Is there any guideline on trading down in the first round as to what you should get in return? For example, with our 14th pick, if we traded down about 6-7 spots, what should we expect in return? I know it's not an exact thing, but is there kind of an expectation? Thanks!

— Gary Gimble

An interesting question from Gary, especially since we all know that Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has been known to make a trade or two while the draft is ongoing.

The Vikings did just this a year ago, sending the 25th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft to the 49ers for the 31st, 117th and 176th overall picks.

There are a few draft value charts out there, but for simplicity, let's go with this one from Drafttek.com. If you haven't tinkered around with this before, it simply assigns a point value to each draft pick over seven rounds.

Based on the chart, the 25th pick is valued at 720 points. The 31st pick is 600 points, the 117th pick is 60 points and the 176th pick is 19.8 points.

Some quick math shows that the Vikings traded away a value of 720 points and received 679.8 points in return. By this metric, you would give the 49ers the nod in this deal, right?

You could, but look deeper and you'll see that the Vikings were able to take Jeff Gladney, D.J. Wonnum and K.J. Osborn with those exact three selections. The 49ers went with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk at No. 25.

And while I certainly like Aiyuk's game (and not because we both went to Arizona State), I argue the Vikings got the better end of the deal with a promising young cornerback, an edge rusher with potential and a player who could eventually develop into a helper on special teams.

So, that's just one example of how draft-day trades are calculated. It's fun to follow during the draft, but sometimes you can't judge the actual impact until months later.

View photos of the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl that took place on Jan. 30 in Mobile, Alabama.

How about Tony Romo for OC?! Think about it ... just for a moment, think about it!!

— Dennis Kraklio

We'll end this Mailbag with an off-the-wall idea from Dennis. I did think about this possibility for a moment (Zimmer and Romo even overlapped for the quarterback's first three seasons in Dallas), but had to shoot it down in the end.

Why? Because Romo seems to have a pretty good setup at the moment with a comfortable TV gig that he clearly loves. Just listen to him on broadcasts, including Super Bowl LV next Sunday, and you can tell he really enjoys working with Jim Nantz and the CBS crew.

I don't think he'd want to give that up for the grueling job of an offensive coordinator, even if it comes with a unit that features the likes of Kirk Cousins, Cook, Jefferson, Adam Thielen and others.

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