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If the Texans take a quarterback first overall, do you think there is any chance the Vikings would trade up to get Jadeveon Clowney? -- Justin P. Charleston, SC
With all the Vikings defensive linemen scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency on March 11, adding a talented player in the draft such as Clowney could be a prudent move. To add Clowney, though, it seems the Vikings would have to make a significant jump up the draft board from their spot at No. 8. The cost to do so might be prohibitive for a general manager such as Rick Spielman, who values draft picks and has stated publicly he'd like to leave the draft with 10-plus selections. Spielman's desire to do that is especially well-conceived this year because the 2014 draft class is said to be one of the deepest in recent memory.
Your take recently that the Vikings do not necessarily HAVE TO take Blake Bortles if he falls to us at No. 8 got me thinking. One thing I thought about was: Who behind us in the draft would take Bortles if we passed on him? The Bills just took a first-round quarterback last year. The Titans maybe at No. 11? The Rams at No. 13? Say we traded down from our spot into the late-teens or early-twenties, could we still get our quarterback in Bortles? -- Nelson T. Tallahassee, FL
Another aspect to remember is that a quarterback-needy could move up into the early-teens to grab Bortles (or whichever quarterback they prefer). So even if the Titans and Rams didn't take Bortles, they or any other team in that area of the board, could trade their pick to a team who comes up to grab Bortles. That's why teams have to be calculated and flexible when they start to talk about trading back. However far back you go, you must be willing to watch that many players go off the top of your board before you make a selection.
The receiving corps does seem to be improving, particularly with (Cordarrelle) Patterson on the roster, but could they look to add more depth there? -- Mike D. Chicago, IL
I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see the Vikings add an impact player at the receiver position in free agency and/or the draft. First of all, there is plenty of talent available in both free agency and the draft. Veterans Eric Decker, Julian Edelman and Jeremy Maclin are all expected to hit the market on March 11, and that's just the tip of the iceberg for free agent. As for the draft, NFL Network's Mike Mayock called this year's crop of receivers perhaps the deepest he's ever seen in a draft. Many may not categorize receiver as a need for the Vikings, but as we've seen several times in the past, Spielman will not turn down a chance to add a good player just because there isn't a perceived need on the roster (drafting Adrian Peterson in 2007 and Kyle Rudolph in 2011).
It looks like Toby Gerhart is going to leave, so why don't we trade him for some draft picks instead of just letting him leave for nothing? -- Larry H. California
Teams cannot trade players until the start of the 2014 League Year (March 11), which is the same time that 2013 player contracts expire. This means teams are not allowed to trade players with expiring contracts. If a team wants to trade a player scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency the following year, they must do so before the trading deadline in the regular season.
Looking at most of the experts for this coming draft, many expect us either to take a quarterback or a pass rusher at No. 8. Looking at how Mike Zimmer built his defense in Cincinnati, they ranked top five in pass defense. Seeing the new emphasis in the NFL on passing and the fact that the Viking ranked near the bottom of the league, do you see the Vikings looking at a cornerback at pick 8? If so, do you believe drafting Xavier Rhodes last year, Harrison Smith the year before, and a rookie this year would give the Vikings too much youth in the secondary? If they were to take a corner, what are your thoughts on Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard? -- Gabe G.
First off, we must remember that pass defense is not just about coverage. Good pass defense requires a blend of rush and coverage. Secondly, I would not rule out a cornerback at No. 8 for the Vikings. In fact, the eighth overall pick is right where the top cornerback has gone over the past five years. If you average out the draft position of the top cornerback since 2009, it comes out to 8.2. With everything but pro days and each team's final draft meetings in the books, my sense is the top cornerback taken will be either Dennard or Gilbert, depending on what flavor of cornerback the particular team prefers. For what it's worth, Gilbert was one of the Combine's biggest winners due to his outstanding performance in the on-field drills.