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Monday Morning Mailbag: How Will Rule Changes Impact Vikings?

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With the new touchback rule, do you see Blair changing his approach to kickoffs or will he continue to use his big leg and boom it out of the end zone? -- Kyle Kinnison Santa Maria, CA

I'm guessing we'll see fewer touchbacks than usual, but only time will tell. With touchbacks being moved out to the 25, there's no question that blasting it out of the end zone has become less appealing in some cases for the team kicking off. At the same time, many teams will be happy to give the offense possession at the 25 as opposed to kicking it to dangerous returners, such as Cordarrelle Patterson. At the end of the day, I think you'll see Walsh do both things – blast it through the end zone for a touchback and land kicks near the goal line to force returns in the hopes of making a tackle inside the 25.

What do you think of the rule change on moving touchbacks after kickoffs to the 25 yard line? -- Kris Utah

At first blush, I don't like it because it feels to me that the design of the rule is to decrease the amount of kickoff returns. We'll see what happens. I'm actually suspicious that this rule change will result in more kickoff returns because kickoff teams won't want to create touchbacks – because of the improved field position it now gives offenses – and therefore won't kick it into the end zone as often. Ultimately, whether I like the rule change or not will be determined at the end of the year when we see the numbers. Last season, there were 1,080 kickoff returns. If there are significantly fewer kickoff returns in 2016, then I won't like the rule change. If there are more, then the rule change won't bother me.

With the Vikings adding some talented offensive lineman in free agency, do you think it would make most sense to draft a wide receiver in the first round? -- Levi Accra, Ghana

It makes the most sense to take the best player on the board when you're on the clock. If the best player on the Vikings board is a WR when they are on the clock at No. 23, then that's who I would take. But if the best player on the board is an offensive linemen when the Vikings are on the clock, then I wouldn't pass that player up just because I've added a couple in free agency. Passing on a player because he doesn't play a position of need in favor of a worse player who does play a position of need is a good way to find busts in the draft.

Is our new addition at right tackle really a favorite to win the job this early? -- Chris Ladd

The right tackle situation is interesting because there are a number of options currently on the roster and each of them brings a quality to the table the others don't necessarily have. There's a returning 17-game starter in TJ Clemmings who brings youth and continuity to the table. Then you have a free agent signing who brings talent to the competition. And then you have a longtime stalwart in Phil Loadholt who brings a veteran presence to the picture. All of this, and we haven't even had the draft yet, so another intriguing option could be added to the mix. I'd say it's too early to call the winner of this competition.

Do you think the revamped offensive line will be enough to keep Teddy upright? Or does Teddy need to get the ball out quicker? -- Bill Speer Glyndon, MN

Both. Decreasing the pressure on Bridgewater and the number of sacks allowed is not a responsibility that lies at the feet of one position group. It's a goal that must be accomplished with everyone chipping in – protection from linemen, backs and TEs, receivers getting open quickly and the QB delivering the ball on time. 

The past two years, we've selected two very good linebackers who were both from UCLA. With Chad Greenway getting older and Myles Jack looking as good as advertised, what are the chances we jump up in the draft and take him off the board? -- Eriq Naea Long Beach, CA

You can never rule anything out with Rick Spielman, but this one seems unlikely because the cost of jumping up that high is prohibitive. In NFL.com's Mock Draft Central, Jack doesn't go any later than No. 5 overall to Jacksonville. With the Vikings at No. 23, the traditional trade value chart suggests it would require two 1st-round picks (No. 23 in 2016 and a 2017 1st-rounder) to move from 23 to 5. I'm not making the decision for Spielman obviously, but that seems like a steep price to pay when you already have Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks on the roster and when teams in today's NFL are using three LBs at one time less than half the game.

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