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After Johnny Manziel's pro day last week, do you think the Vikings may potentially trade up? Or will they hope he slides down the draft board? Or potentially pick someone else? -- Joshua S. Dickinson, ND
As impressive as Manziel was at his pro day, I don't view the Vikings as any more likely to trade up for him now than they were previously. It remains a possibility, but at this point I wouldn't characterize it as any more than that. What could keep the Vikings, or any team outside of the top five picks, from trading up to get Manziel isn't necessarily a lack of interest, but the fact that the cost of moving up from No. 8 is too prohibitive.
My main takeaway from Manziel's pro day is that his workout confirmed what you can see on tape – he has great arm talent because he can make all the throws a quarterback needs to make and he makes them with velocity or touch, whichever is needed. He also displayed the ability to make difficult throws while on the move. Finally, I believe it's notable that Manziel performed so well while surrounded by such pomp and circumstance, the likes of which we rarely see for a pro day. That he performed that well with that kind of atmosphere helps build the case that he enjoys and perhaps flourishes on the big stage.
Is there any chance at all we fall into the talk of DeSean Jackson's new home? -- Pablo A.
A chance? I suppose. But my sense is that the demand for Jackson's services will be such that the price tag associated with signing him will not appeal to the Vikings. The Vikings conduct due diligence on every player that becomes available, so it's only fair to assume they've looked into and discussed the idea of signing Jackson. But I'm guessing many other teams have, as well, and given Jackson is a talented player right in the middle of his prime, he'll likely garner quite a bit of interest and, thus, a heavy price tag for the team that decides to sign him.
I loved our free agent signings. They really filled a lot of holes on this roster. Do you think because of these signings we could actually trade up in the draft to make sure we secure a franchise quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater hopefully) because there is less need at other positions? Also, do you think it would be smart to target linebacker Chris Borland with our second-round pick (or some other inside linebacker)? -- Zach W. Shorewood, MN
No, I don't believe the results of free agency for the Vikings dictates that the best move is to trade up from No. 8 in this year's draft. Could the Vikings trade up? Yes, they certainly could and there are scenarios in which that would make sense. More likely, though, the Vikings will be in a position to stay at No. 8 and take the best available player or potentially rely on the depth of this year's class and move back from No. 8 to a later spot in the first round to acquire more selections while still getting a solid player to plug into the lineup.
As for Borland, I really like his game. I came away from the Senior Bowl impressed with his physical style of play and his instincts. He doesn't fit the prototype in terms of size, but I'm finished with writing players off because of their lack of size – the success of players such as Russell Wilson, who was deemed by many to be "too small" should cause everyone to refrain from taking this critique too far. To me, Borland's best attributes are his instincts, intelligence and toughness. Are there any traits aside from those three that matter more for inside linebackers? I don't think so. I'm not necessarily saying Borland is a "must-get" for the Vikings, but he's certainly worth considering as early as the second round, in my opinion.
A couple of scenarios I've seen have the Vikings trading back with the St. Louis Rams in the first round. What picks would the Vikings be likely to get in that kind of trade? -- Thomas C.
There's no way to know for sure because every trade is different and is the product of a unique set of circumstances. But we can get in the ballpark based on precedent set by previous trades.
In this case, we need to look no further than in 2012 when the Rams traded the sixth overall pick to the Cowboys in exchange for the 14th overall pick and a second-rounder (No. 45 overall). Since, in our scenario, the Rams would be making a smaller jump (five spots) than the Cowboys made in 2012 (eight spots), the deal wouldn't be exactly the same. With the Vikings currently sitting at No. 8 overall and the Rams holding the No. 13 overall selection, perhaps a deal similar in structure would appeal to both sides – maybe the Rams sending the Vikings No. 13, No. 75 (third-rounder) and No. 141 (fifth-rounder) in exchange for No. 8. Just an idea.
I'm not familiar with Vladimir Ducasse, whom we signed last week. Is he a reliable backup or a starter? -- Kathy K.
Ducasse, who measures in at 6-5, 325 pounds, has been both during his career to this point. He will be just 26 years old when the season starts and he has played in all 16 games in each of the past three seasons, with four starts. What he will be for the Vikings will be determined over the next four-to-five months during the Vikings offseason program (begins April 7), training camp and the preseason. Ducasse joins returning starters Brandon Fusco and Charlie Johnson as well as last year's sixth-round pick, Jeff Baca, and Josh Samuda on the depth chart.
All draft talk is about the Vikings taking a quarterback or defense with their first-round pick. What about Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans? Not only would having Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Evans be a great trio for years and allow Jennings to play in the slot, but it would keep Evans from the Lions. Keeping Evans away from teaming with Calvin Johnson should be enough of a reason to draft him. -- Mickey D. Minneapolis, MN
I believe taking the best player available is the right strategy, regardless of position and positional need. But I also believe in using the draft to add players who can make a difference on your team. Melding those two strategies can at times be a tricky process. While I think the Vikings would improve their offense by adding Evans, I also think they can improve the team by passing on a first-round receiver and taking a player at a different position instead, provided that player is of equal ability.