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A lot of people expect the Vikings to pick a quarterback in the draft. But current projections have the top three quarterbacks all going in the top five. Obviously that may change in the coming months, but do you see a possibility that the Vikings trade up from No. 8, maybe even to No. 1, in order to get a quarterback? -- Michael Chicago, IL
A trade of that magnitude seems unlikely, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Either way, a lot will change between now and the draft so it's too early to speculate. One thing to keep in mind, though, is the possibility does exist that the Vikings will not select a quarterback with the No. 8 pick. If there is not a quarterback they deem worthy of being selected at No. 8, the team could then take the best available defensive player and fill a need on that side of the ball. The success of teams such as Seattle and San Francisco, who both feature starting quarterbacks taken after the first round, adds even more credibility to that approach.
I believe the Vikings have a nice core group of young players in Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, etc. But my biggest fear is that some or most of these young players won't get a fair chance with a new head coach because he didn't bring them to the team. Do you share this fear of a new head coach? -- Paul S.
I do not share that concern because while the team will be dealing with the transition of a new head coach and coaching staff, the organization will also be able to rest on continuity within the front office, particularly the personnel department. GM Rick Spielman is the one who drafted or signed that young, talented core of players and he's still at his post, and I believe Spielman will be able to establish and maintain a positive, cohesive working relationship with the new coach and staff to the point where the personnel department will identify, acquire and keep talented players that fit with what the coaching staff is trying to execute on the field.
What do you think of the idea of the defense switching from a 4-3 system to a 3-4 system? -- Max M. Minneapolis, MN
I am not married to one kind of system over the other. There are things to like about both schemes. I don't think the roster is perfectly suited for a 3-4 right now, but that doesn't mean the team can't switch and reshape the roster over time to fit that scheme. Whom the team hires as a head coach and, consequently, as a defensive coordinator, will obviously be a huge indication as to what direction Spielman wants to go.
Last year the Vikings re-signed most of their own free agents to keep continuity from the previous season. Do you see them doing that again this year? -- Dave W. Albany, NY
With roster limits expanded in the offseason, teams typically like to keep as many of their own free agents as possible, and I suspect the Vikings will fall into line with that philosophy this offseason. Retaining your own free agents does not preclude you from being players in the restricted or unrestricted free agent market so long as you are able to retain your own free agents at a fair price. The Vikings have done a nice job of this in the past and they've also done a nice job of reaching contract extensions with players before they hit free agency, re-signing Brian Robison this past season, for example.
I am greatly encouraged about the future of our team with the play of rookies Cordarrelle Patterson and Xavier Rhodes. It has not been near as easy to evaluate the play of fellow rookie Sharrif Floyd. Do you think he has future All-Pro potential? Will he be more effective at the three technique instead of the nose. I assume that is where he will play next year. -- Kerry W. Toledo, OH
I agree it wasn't as easy to evaluate Floyd this past season as it was Patterson and Rhodes. Unless you're flipping on the film or talking to coaches, it's more difficult to accurately evaluate the guys in the trenches than it is guys who play out in space. With that said, my sense is Floyd progressed during his rookie season and did at times flash the potential of a player with All-Pro capability. He finished with 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four passes defensed in part-time action, so it'll be interesting to see what his production level will be when he's a full-time player. In order to get to that All-Pro level, Floyd will have to earn more playing time and be more disruptive more consistently.