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When a team makes a trade in the draft to move back one or more spots, do they discuss with the other team who they want to draft? This could possibly assure or at least increase the odds that their guy will still be available when it is their turn to pick. -- Scott Wyant
There are no assurances in this game. A team is not going to move back unless they are certain that a player they like and value appropriately is going to be there when they're on the clock. If you're on the clock at No. 10 and there are three players you like equally, then you can trade back but you should not trade back further than No. 12; that is the only way to assure you will get one of those three players you like. Teams may discuss in general terms – by using positions – who they are considering, but I would imagine it's rare that specific names are used in those conversations.
Do you think the Vikings will take the best player available as opposed to the best, for example, offensive lineman or defensive back available with their first pick, given the fact that they are pretty solid all around right now? -- Bob Mahowald
GM Rick Spielman is steadfast in his philosophy of taking the best player available, regardless of position, and I don't see that philosophy changing this year. The misunderstood element of this process is that the draft board is horizontally oriented rather than a vertical/list ranking of players 1-300. There are often times multiple players at different positions with the exact same grade. Teams can factor in need at a certain position when it comes to stacking those similarly-graded players, though. As an example, a team with a need at defensive end could stack that defensive end ahead of the linebacker even though the two players have the same grade.
Do you think coach Zimmer and the Vikings front office are concerned that so many other teams in the NFC have gotten significantly better during the offseason? Because it kind of scares me! -- Frank Pung Bakersfield, CA
Every team is trying to get better and I agree with Frank that several in the NFC seem to have improved significantly. The Packers, Rams and Eagles are teams many will point to as greatly improved. Teams such as the 49ers and Bears have quietly gotten better, too. But let's not leave the Vikings out of this mix, The signings of quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson represent improvements in the roster, plus much of the Vikings core is comprised of ascending players or players in their prime. The NFC is certainly loaded and the Vikings are right in the thick of things. No reason to be scared and plenty of reasons to be excited and optimistic.
With Joe Berger retired, who is the next starting guard? Have we signed anyone who can start? How many top guards do they have in the draft that could maybe start in the NFL? -- Bruce Blanton
The Vikings signed Tom Compton this offseason and they have at least two candidates returning from last season in Danny Isidora and Mike Remmers; though it's also possible Remmers remains at right tackle. There are several other options currently on the roster (Josh Andrews and Cornelius Edison, among them). Plus, there is the draft. It's difficult for me to say how many potential starters are in this year's class, but most of the analysts we've spoken to this offseason suggest this year's class of interior offensive linemen is solid. I don't have any concerns about the Vikings being able to find a suitable starter at the open guard spot.
Wouldn't it make good sense to try to get a quality running back out of this draft since Dalvin Cook had a knee injury this past season? -- Dale Francis
Both Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer have seemed optimistic and confident in Cook's rehab this offseason, so there's a sense that he'll be good to go for the 2018 season. The Vikings also have Latavius Murray under contract for 2018. That is a very good one-two punch for the Vikings at running back. With that being said, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Vikings look at a running back in the draft if the right one is available at the right time. Both of last year's Super Bowl teams – New England and Philadelphia – had three quality backs they used with some regularity.
What are the chances of us trading down to acquire more picks in the 2nd or 3rd rounds? I've heard that the draft is deep at offensive guard and a run on QBs and RBs could make the guards drop. Wouldn't it be smarter to trade out of the 1st round to acquire potentially two more picks? I know Rick Spielman is a wizard at making trades in the draft to acquire more picks….What are your thoughts? -- Laura Moser Pequot Lakes, MN
I'm not opposed to trading out of the 1st round, but I wouldn't predetermine that because the right move could wind up being to stay put and take a good player. If you don't feel like any teams are offering enough to compel you to move back or if you're not sure you'll get a player you like at whatever spot you're considering moving back to, then it's better to just take a player.