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We have great all-around linebackers that are versatile at covering ground. However, I have also noticed that many of the top teams have a great pass rush led by a "pass rushing" linebacker or pair of linebackers where their primary job is to rush the QB. Do you think Zimmer will look at utilizing a "pass rush" linebacker such as a DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller or Justin Houston? -- Arvind St. Louis, MO
With how creative and versatile Mike Zimmer can be in his schemes, I wouldn't rule anything out. I will say, though, the teams Arvind is referencing are typically employing a 3-4 defensive front. In a 3-4 defense, one of the two (or both) outside LBs is typically designated as the pass rusher and they are rushing the passer almost every down. That player essentially becomes the fourth defensive lineman. The Vikings don't run a 3-4 as their base defensive front. They use primarily a 4-3 front, so they already have a fourth defensive lineman. The three LBs are responsible for rushing the passer on some plays, but none of the three are designated as a primary pass rusher.
Due to Danielle Hunters explosive season last year with 6.0 sacks and a forced fumble, do you see his role expanding in the 2016 season? -- Nicholas Minnesota
That would seem like the natural progression for him. There is plenty of reason for optimism with Hunter because he was the youngest player in the NFL last year and he was able to contribute on a regular basis for a defense that ranked No. 5 in points allowed. Hunter was second among all rookies with 6.0 sacks, he made 10 plays behind the line of scrimmage for the season, and he did it all while on a rotational basis playing behind Brian Robison. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him with a larger role in 2016, perhaps even as a starter.
I have checked various mock drafts and a lot of these guys have the Vikings picking a wide receiver in the 1st round. We already have good wide receivers. I believe the Vikings will pick a safety to start opposite Harrison Smith or a Will linebacker. What say you, Mike? -- Paul D. Engleson Woodbridge, VA
Don't sweat the mock drafts. They are fun to follow and create a lot of good fodder for discussion and debate, but just remember that mock drafts are not intended to necessarily be indicators of what will happen but are more for the creation of discussion. With GM Rick Spielman at the helm, you can never rule anything out in terms of what position(s) will be addressed and/or whether a trade back or up will happen. Outside of a quarterback, punter or kicker, I wouldn't rule any position out in the 1st round at this stage. The idea is to take the best available player regardless of position, especially in the early rounds, because that way you have a better chance of taking a good player. If that player happens to play a position you don't think you need, that's ok. There's nothing wrong with fortifying an already strong position, plus you never know when injuries will create a need in the future. I know "best player available regardless of position" sounds like a cliché or a cop out to answering a question, but it truly is what teams try to do in the draft.
Have you been able to see the inside of US Bank Stadium? If so, what are your thoughts? -- Terry Varichak
I have been inside US Bank Stadium recently and I came away with many observations. I'll share two of the more significant ones. First, I don't think there will be a bad seat in the house. The seats are very close to the field of play and that will allow fans to be right on top of the action, even fans who are sitting in the upper levels of the building. Secondly, I think it will be very loud in there. With a new building, you never know if the place will be structured in a way that allows it to get loud when the crowd is roaring. But after being inside of the building now that it's entirely enclosed, it feels and sounds to me like a building that will get loud when 60,000 people are in there yelling at the top of their lungs to support the Vikings.
Do you think the Pro Bowl will impact the young players like Teddy and Barr? And if so, in what why? -- Josiah Thomas
The experience of being around other great players should have a positive impact on the Vikings who made their first appearances at the Pro Bowl – Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater, Everson Griffen and Harrison Smith. It's a great opportunity to talk shop with other great players and I would think it serves as yet another motivator to work hard in the offseason to improve.
Do you ever see the day where the NFL in some way conforms to the other three major sports leagues and has the Pro Bowl moved to Week 10 or Week 11, giving every team a bye in that week while the Pro Bowl is played? -- Kris Utah
No, I don't see that happening. Given the risk to injury and the disadvantage a team would face if they lost a star player to injury in an exhibition game in the middle of the season, I don't see the NFL ever playing the Pro Bowl in the middle of the regular season. I won't be surprised to see the game changed in some significant way in the near future, but I would be surprised to see the game played during the regular season.