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Monday Morning Mailbag: Defensive Upgrades

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You see teams like the Patriots and Seahawks dominate so routinely, a lot of it due to how complete they are. How close do you think the Vikings are to being that caliber of a team and what do they need to address to get there? --Zach C. Minneapolis, MN

New England has won double-digit games for 12 consecutive seasons and the Seahawks have done it three straight years while also advancing to the past two Super Bowls. There are other franchises enjoying extended periods of consistent success right now, as well, such as the Baltimore (six postseason berths in last seven years Super Bowl title), Cincinnati (four consecutive playoff appearances) and Green Bay (six consecutive playoff appearances). To me, it's not so much that these teams are complete teams. There are two other traits they have that lead to success, in my view. The first, and most important, is consistent production out of the quarterback position. The second is a talented head coach who can get the most out of his players and has been given time to develop his program. Take a look at the quarterback-coach tandems of the five teams mentioned above and you'll see all you need to see in terms of why those franchises can win consistently.

If you could take any NFL non-quarterback from any team and put him on the Vikings, who would it be and why? My pick would be WR Demaryius Thomas on offense because of his hands, breakaway speed and run blocking, and then LB Luke Kuechly on defense because of his ability to lead the defense, stop the run, and play recognition. -- Andrew Melby

Those are two very good choices and it's hard to argue against either. But I love to argue and there are a lot of good players out there, so I am going to choose two different players. On defense, I would choose Texans DL JJ Watt. I feel he is the best defensive player in the NFL and can be played in multiple positions along the defensive line. Mike Zimmer would be like a kid in a candy store as he devised schemes and wrinkles for his defense with Watt as a focal point. On offense, I would choose WR Dez Bryant. He isn't quite as big as Thomas, but I feel he's more explosive and I love his versatility in terms of being a receiver who can catch screens and who can also take the top off a defense.

What are the chances that the Vikings get a defensive back like Darrelle Revis or Devin McCourty in free agency? -- Seth Mitzel Bismarck, ND

The chances of the Vikings or of any team not named the New England Patriots acquiring McCourty or Revis are slim. They are both good players and I'm sure the Patriots are working to find a way to retain both players. But both players play a position – McCourty a safety and Revis a cornerback – I can see the Vikings addressing in free agency this offseason. Here are a few other names at each position to keep an eye on: Cornerbacks Darius Butler, Bradley Fletcher, Kareem Jackson, Byron Maxwell and Cassius Vaughn; Safeties Sergio Brown, Quinton Carter, Kendrick Lewis, Taylor Mays, Jeromy Miles and Da'Norris Searcy.

Do you think Robert Blanton did enough this past season to show he can start alongside Harrison Smith again next season? Or do you think the Vikings will look to upgrade the strong safety spot this offseason? -- Tanner Weber Mitchell, SD

A little bit of both. Blanton showed this past season that he is good enough to play in the NFL and that he will be a candidate to start for the Vikings going into the 2015 season. But I don't believe he played at a high enough level consistently to allow the Vikings to pencil him in as the starter and avoid adding talent to his position.

Do the Vikings need a linebacker in this year's draft? I thought Anthony Barr, Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole stepped up and played better than what was expected. Maybe we need more depth, but I like our linebacker roster right now. How serious of a need is a linebacker for them? -- Adam Masseth

I like the Vikings linebacker roster as it stands right now, too, but there are questions that remain and there needs to be both more finality and more talent at the position once the 2015 regular season rolls around. Are Jasper Brinkley and Chad Greenway a part of the 2015 plan? If either or both are not, then the Vikings are in need of both starters and depth at the position. If one or both are back, then finding another starter is less of a need. Either way, it's never a bad idea to fortify the depth at a position, and that is especially the case at linebacker because linebackers can be core special teams players, as well.

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