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Monday Morning Mailbag: Draft Talk, Kicking Game Questions, More

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I know it's far-fetched, but could you see the Vikings taking another safety early in the draft to shore up the back end and to get experience under someone like Harrison Smith? If so, I was thinking an under-the-radar player like Nate Gerry from Nebraska. What are your thoughts? -- Max Sioux Falls, SD

I wouldn't rule out a safety at some point, even earlry-ish, for the Vikings this year. The mock drafts on NFL.com have Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker going 1-2 in some order, with some combination of Budda Baker, Josh Jones and Jabrill Peppers going next. After that, opinions vary on how and when the names will fall. The Vikings have five picks in the first rounds, and some other names to look up if you have time include Florida's Marcus Maye, Iowa's Desmond King and UCONN's Obi Melifonwu. Gerry is an interesting idea I could get behind, although his NFL.com prospect profile suggests he could be a later-round pick.

If the Vikings stand pat in the second round, you would think they would focus on offensive line or running back. But with Zimmer's mentality, if say a hybrid DE/LB like a TJ Watt or someone like him is there, do you see the Vikings pulling the trigger on defense again? -- Allen Hines

Yes, if the board dictates it. The Vikings will take the best available player at No. 48, even if it's a defensive player. That is part of the benefit of signing two starting offensive tackles in free agency, too. The Vikings addressed a major area of need with the Reiff and Remmers signings, and it gives them more flexibility in the draft, particularly in the first few rounds.

It seems as though the Vikings are sitting on some salary cap money and I wonder why. They have a new stadium, so revenue should not be an issue. The only imminent big contract is Xavier Rhodes. I know it will be a big one, but I also don't think it will impact this year; that will be a next year issue. Your thoughts? -- Kerry Watkins

Good question, Kerry. There are several things here. First of all, the team does have cap space but I don't know the exact number and it's not something we'd get into on the website. It doesn't do the team any good to broadcast the exact number, and the exact number is hard to nail down; two credible sources – overthecap.com and spotrac.com – have two different numbers for the Vikings, which illustrates that point. Secondly, it's rare for teams to spend to the cap at any point and it's a rarity they would be even close at this time of year because you want to keep some in reserve for draft picks, injury issues and street free agency later in the year for when you're dealing with injuries. As for a Rhodes, a new contract could be on the horizon, but I disagree he's the only one who could be imminent. There are others, such as QB Sam Bradford, DE Everson Griffen and DT Linval Joseph, just to name a few, who could come up at some point. And finally, teams are allowed to roll over cap space from one year into the next year, which would make it silly to overspend for players just so you use all the space when you could conserve that space in a year where you don't need it as much and use it the following year when you may have more business to do than usual.

Have either of our new tackles been hurt in recent years? -- Blake Dufner

Not really. Durability has been a strength of each during their careers. Reiff missed two games last year – Week 9 at Minnesota and Week 17 vs. Green Bay. He's missed only three games to injury over five seasons and has 77 games played with 69 starts as a pro. Remmers played and started all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, including every game in the Panthers 15-1 season that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance, and he played and started in the final five games of 2014, too.

Do you feel comfortable with our current kicker Kai Forbath, or will the Vikings address kicker in the draft? I note in this year's draft that Arizona State's kicker, Zane Gonzalez, won the Lou Groza award as the nation's top kicker and made seven of nine from 50-plus yards, even a 59-yarder against Colorado. -- David Bond Byron, MN

Forbath was 15 of 15 with five makes from 40+ in seven games with the Vikings last season, and he's an 86.6% field goal kicker for his career. Yes, I feel comfortable with Forbath going forward. But the Vikings do have another kicker – Marshall Koehn – on the roster to compete with Forbath. Koehn is 24, spent part of 2016 with the Miami Dolphins and played collegiately at the University of Iowa.

Who will be our punter this year? -- Bryan Coles

It's too early to say who the punter will be because the Vikings don't have a returning starter and it appears they'll head into the offseason program with two on the roster. The Vikings signed veteran Ryan Quigley last week and they also have an undrafted rookie tryout from last year – Taylor Symmank – on the roster.

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