Monday Morning Mailbag: Recent Offensive Line Signings, Draft Day Scenarios, More

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Do the Vikings spend any time trying to predict what the 17 teams in front of them are going to do in the 1st round? Or does the scouting staff just focus on what players are available to the Vikings when they draft because they can't control what the other teams do?
-- Paul Severson
Woodbury, MN

Yes, teams spend time studying what could happen in front of them in the draft. This analysis helps determine strategy. For example, if the 1st round is rolling along and it gets to No. 12 (seven spots away from the Vikings pick at No. 18) and the Vikings only have three players with a 1st-round grade remaining on their board, it helps to know what the chances are that those three players will be taken by any of the teams between picks No. 12 and No. 17. If it’s likely that those three players will be taken, then the Vikings know they have to consider trading either up ahead to get in position to take one of those players and/or they know they need to start calling teams behind them to see if they can move back because you don’t want to take a player at No. 18 who doesn’t deserve to be taken there. Knowing team needs and habits in the draft is advantageous in each round.

If Jonah Williams and Ed Oliver are available at No. 18, who do you take? I know last year the Colts drafted two offensive linemen in the first two rounds and it helped their front. I’m leaning toward Williams.
-- Curtis Moore
Easton, PA

Wow, what a dilemma that would be. But these are the types of scenarios and questions teams must prepare for, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this exact scenario is one several GMs put in front of the draft room leading up to April 25. Given the depth of this year’s defensive draft class and particularly the depth at defensive line, plus the Vikings need along the offensive line, I lean toward Williams, too. But I don’t have all the information, my opinion isn’t a reflection whatsoever of what the Vikings might do and that’s just a lean toward Williams for me. It’s an interesting question and it’s a dilemma I would love for the Vikings to face because I think both players can be difference-makers at the NFL level.

With the recent signings of Dakota Dozier, Josh Kline and Brent Jones, what is the likelihood the Vikings wait until Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft to address the offensive line?
-- Jordan Radermacher
Fargo, ND

Those three signings are quality signings for the Vikings and will help build depth along the offensive line, but I wouldn’t it means the Vikings will ignore the possibility of selecting an offensive lineman in the first few rounds. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that the Vikings will take a lineman early in this draft, but in listening to what many of the analysts whom we’ve interviewed the last several weeks have said it’s clear there are some talented offensive linemen who deserve to be taken in the Top 100 or so picks. Given that head coach Mike Zimmer wants to be tougher in the trenches and that he wants to run the ball better, it would make some sense for the Vikings to consider some of those players despite the signing/re-signing of the aforementioned players.

Is there a safety the Vikings might want in the 1st round and, if so, do you think they may try to trade down or is there one that may be rated high enough to take at No. 18?
-- John Moran
Chincoteague Island, VA

I don’t know if the Vikings have any 1st-round grades on safeties nor do I know if they plan to trade down or up to be in position to take a safety in the 1st round; it also wouldn’t behoove the organization or myself to disclose that information if I did know it. But I will say, if you love watching talented defensive backs and you want to take a look at a guy who could go in the 1st round to some team, check out Mississippi State defensive back Johnathan Abram. And don’t do it just because I said so…we interviewed ESPN’s Todd McShay last week and he also likes Abram quite a bit.

How does signing all these AAF players impact (signing) undrafted free agents?
-- @catch84

I guess time will tell, but my sense is it won’t impact anything. There haven’t been enough of them signed to where I think there are significantly fewer roster spots available because of the signings. Plus, this is the ultimate meritocracy. If an undrafted free agent is good enough to be on a roster, he’s going to be signed regardless of whether an AAF player was signed a couple/few weeks earlier.

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