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If you were selecting at No. 23 and there were multiple players you had pegged to go much earlier who are all still on the board, how would go about deciding whom to choose? -- Gabe Morse Coon Rapids, MN
This is the ideal scenario for a team because now you can draft for need without passing up a better player just to take a player who plays a position of need AND you can also look into trading back. If you have three players atop your board with the same grade, then you can move back three spots in the draft and still be assured of getting a player you like. Or you can take a look at the three players and at your needs and simply take the player who satisfies the most significant need. In terms of prioritizing players within a cluster, a big factor to consider in ranking the players is the drop off after the best guy at each position. Where the drop off is steeper is where you may want to go because you can rely on the better depth at the other spot(s) to address that position down the road.
I feel that Ezekiel Elliott will be gone by pick No. 23, and I strongly believe that we need to draft a running back in either the 2nd or 3rd round as a future replacement for All Day. Who, besides Derrick Henry, is worthy of consideration in the 2nd or 3rd rounds? -- Ricky Brune
Elliott should indeed be long gone by No. 23 and, in fact, I feel one could argue he's one of the best players in this entire class. But teams looking to draft a RB beyond the 1st round are in luck because there are some talented runners in this year's class. There's another Alabama RB aside from Henry who is worth a look – Kenyan Drake. Injury history and playing behind the Heisman Trophy winner cast Drake in a shadow of relative anonymity, but he's got an effective slashing style of running plus he can catch well and he can be a factor on special teams as both a coverage guy and a returner. Other RBs to look into include Jordan Howard (Indiana), Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech), Devontae Booker (Utah), Paul Perkins (UCLA) and CJ Prosise (Notre Dame).
With the addition of Michael Griffin at safety, do you see the Vikings going after one in the draft? If so, how early? Karl Joseph or Keanu Neal would be scary next to Harry. -- Jacob K. Marinette, WI
I do not think the addition of Griffin will preclude the Vikings from taking a safety in this year's draft. Griffin's addition could cause the Vikings to give the nod to a player at another position who has the same grade as a safety, but I do not believe it would stop the Vikings from taking a safety if that player is the highest-rated player when they are on the clock.
What is Cordarrelle Patterson's future with the Vikings? -- Matt
Patterson is under contract for 2016 and the team has the option to exercise a one-year option that would also keep him under contract for 2017; that decision must be made by May 2. I don't know if the Vikings will exercise that one-year option, but they did choose to exercise the option for 2012 1st-rounders Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith, and they have the same decision to make on DT Sharrif Floyd and CB Xavier Rhodes, also by May 2. Regardless of what the team decides on the fifth-year option, this is a big season for Patterson. If he can make something happen on offense or at least demonstrate an ability to grow and eventually become a productive player on offense, then I suspect the team will try to find a way to keep him. If he can't do that, then there's a chance he'll be a free agent next year.
Is a big-bodied wide receiver really necessary at pick No. 23 if we have a healthy Charles Johnson this year? -- Shane Hovorka Shakopee, MN
No, a WR is not necessary at 23, and that is with or without Johnson on the roster. What is necessary at 23 (and at all points of the draft) is taking the best available player. It wasn't necessary for the Vikings to draft a RB in 2007 because they had signed Chester Taylor in 2006 and he ran for 1,216 yards that season, yet the Vikings decided to take Adrian Peterson anyway and the rest is history. So while a WR is not a necessity at 23, it could be the pick if a WR is the best player on the board when the Vikings go on the clock.
Would teams have to worry a bit if Jerick McKinnon was the holder on FGs and PATs? Brings up some interesting options. -- Joe Gwiazdon
Yes, teams would have to pay special attention to that. But it wouldn't come without its drawbacks for the Vikings. The specialists practice at the same time as the defense and offense, plus they often times take trips to the stadium during the week to rehearse. If your holder is someone who plays primarily on defense or offense, you then have a practice conflict because the specialists' normal routine wouldn't work. Either the position player who is the holder would not work regularly with the other two specialists (long snapper plus kicker), which isn't good, or the rest of the specialists would have to practice at a special time with the position player. Also, position players are injured during their primary roles at a higher rate than the average holder, so the potential of having to use a backup holder, which is disadvantageous for the kicker, is much higher.
I am looking forward to your draft coverage this week, and very glad that the Vikings don't need a starting quarterback. How about you? -- Bill Dunn
Thank you, Bill. We are looking forward to providing draft coverage this week. And, yes, I'm glad the Vikings have their franchise QB. Teams in need of one may have some luck with this year's class, but I'm glad Teddy Bridgewater is here and I look forward to the Vikings selecting players Thursday-Saturday who can help Bridgewater and Co.