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Monday Morning Mailbag: Bradford Trade Worth It?

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Do you take away anything from this weekend's playoff games about what it takes to play at that level? -- Dan Fergus Falls, MN

We value defense both in Minnesota and as a League, and that's good because the Vikings have a good one and it's rare to see a team win the Super Bowl without a top-notch defense. But this past weekend emphasized to me the importance of scoring. Three of the four remaining teams (Atlanta, New England, Green Bay) ranked in the top four in scoring offense this regular season and the fourth team, Pittsburgh, ranked tied for 10th. Atlanta, New England and Green Bay surpassed their regular season scoring average in their playoff games, too. And it's no coincidence that each of the four remaining teams have excellent quarterbacks. So, yes, defense matters, but this is a league driven largely by quarterback play.

Do you think it is fair to look even more favorably on the Sam Bradford trade given the lack of quarterbacks and top offensive line prospects in this year's draft? -- Bill Dunn

I can't speak to the level of top prospects at either position in the draft. Regardless of that, the Bradford trade should be looked at favorably for the Vikings. The price was steep, but the value realized is worth the cost. Bradford played well all season for the Vikings and proved wrong those who said he couldn't stay healthy and he couldn't rise above average play. He played and started 15 games and he put together the best season of his career despite the lack of consistent pass protection and a running game. On top of that, head coach Mike Zimmer said he's earned the right to be the starter going forward, so it's not as if he was a one-season rental. Vikings fans should feel excited about the idea of having Bradford in place to guide this offense.

I am curious when Teddy Bridgewater comes back, who will be the better quarterback for our team? I think we will be in an awesome situation – two outstanding players at the same position. -- Rev. Dan Jaeger Granbury, TX

That is partially dependent on Bridgewater's rehab. There's no guarantee he'll be the same kind of player, but there's also no reason to count him out from being as good or possibly even better than he was before the injury. But until we know what he is when he's back, there's no way to answer that question. At the end of the day, though, Dan is correct that we should be in a good spot because at a minimum we'll have two outstanding players at the most important position in the sport. Bradford's play this past season was excellent and is made even more remarkable given the circumstances around him – he joined the team eight days before the season began and was an accomplished passer despite, as mentioned above, uneven play by the offensive line and the lack of a rushing attack to keep opposing defenses off-balance.

Some people have been talking about the Vikings trading into higher rounds for offensive linemen. I wonder, though, what the actual need will be once current players are healthy and younger players have an offseason to practice. Do you see a danger in going all in on the offensive line when other position groups, especially with free agency looming, could create other needs? -- Jacob S. Minneapolis, MN

Excellent point, Jacob. Yes, I see danger in going all in on the offensive line in the draft. It's better to use the draft as a way to improve the talent and depth at multiple positions. When it comes to improving personnel, most people focus on two avenues – the draft and free agency. But there is a third, and that is developing your own players. This facet is as important, if not more important, than the other two.

I realize the Vikings great need for offensive linemen, but do you think they might draft a running back early in the draft? -- Joe Warner

That depends what your definition of early is. At this point, I wouldn't rule anything out. It seems a bit unlikely that a running back is the choice in the second round, but with two selections as of now in both the third and fourth rounds, it wouldn't be a shock to see a running back taken in the top four rounds. GM Rick Spielman believes in trusting the board, so that is what will dictate the selections, not predetermined choices.

Why do we have to play in Green Bay at the end of the year every year? Why can't we rotate every other year? -- Bruce Bates

The Vikings don't play in Green Bay at the end of the year every season. They have the past two seasons, which is probably what's causing you to feel like it happens every year. But you can't let what has happened recently cause you to think that's what happens all the time. Before the Week 16 game at Lambeau in 2015, you have to go back all the way to 2006 to find the last time the Vikings played at Lambeau Field in Week 16 or Week 17. Also keep in mind that the NFL schedules all division games in Week 17 and they schedule as many as they can for Week 16, so odds are you're going to be playing on the road against a division opponent at the end of the season at least half the time.

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