Monday Morning Mailbag: Skill Position Upgrades An Offseason Priority?

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I know in the offseason the offensive line will be a key towards improvement overall for the Vikings. As far as adding skill positions players, what position should we focus on to help some of our offensive line issues. Wide receiver? Another versatile running back out the backfield or an athletic tight end who has speed with great hands?
-- Dennis Thomas

Let’s take a quick peek at all three positions because I’m hard-pressed to say any of them are a more distinct need than the others at this point. The third receiver position will be interesting this offseason because the Vikings have some interesting options already on the roster, such as Chad Beebe and Aldrick Robison, and they should also supplement the talent pool via the draft and free agency. The cupboard is certainly not bare at tight end but that’s another position that could certainly be addressed. At running back, Latavius Murray’s status bears monitoring and there’s seemingly always very workable options at every level of the draft at running back.

Would you agree the criticism of Kirk Cousins since the season ended has been overdone? I am glad we have both Kirk and a great head coach for our next run.
-- Bill Dunn

Taking criticism, whether it’s fair or not, is part of the deal in the NFL when you’re a quarterback, especially when you’re as handsomely-paid as is Cousins. With that being said, I do think some of the criticism of Cousins has gone over the top. The guy came into a high-pressured and new environment and quickly assimilated into the culture and locker room, and then went out on the field and threw for 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. Did he play perfectly? No. Were there mistakes and plays he’d like to have back? Yes. Reducing turnovers and refining some skills, such as movement within the pocket, will be a focus this offseason. But to suggest, after all the dust settles from the 2018 season, that Cousins was part of the problem is nonsensical. Cousins is part of the solution and the Vikings need to find a way to play better around the quarterback.

How hard will it be to upgrade the offensive line? Many other teams have the same issues! Any chance any players restructure their contracts to accommodate our effort to put together a more complete offensive line?
-- Adam Rosendahl

It’s difficult to construct a great offensive line, but there’s no question it’s worth the effort and is a doable task for the Vikings this offseason. For starters, there are some pieces already in place that can serve as the foundation, including youngsters Pat Elflein and Brian O’Neill. The Indianapolis Colts, who not much more than a year ago had an offensive line that consistently struggled, spent a first-round pick on a left guard and second-round pick on a right tackle this past offseason and the results paid dividends right way because that group suddenly became one of the best in the NFL. There are plenty of examples of teams who fixed their offensive lines in a hurry and the Vikings will look to be the latest success story over the next several months.

Latavius Murray has said that he wants to be a starting running back, so I don’t know if we’ll be able to retain him for 2019. If he does get signed to a team in need of a running back, is Mike Boone the answer at RB2?
-- AJ Bergren
St. Cloud, MN

Boone will be a candidate. But he won’t be the only candidate. Roc Thomas will also be a candidate and there’s no question the Vikings will add to the running back population this offseason. The draft and/or undrafted free agency will certainly be areas the Vikings use to add talent, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings dip into the free agent market to add a running back if they do indeed lose Murray this offseason.

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