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We have selected a cornerback in the first or second round of three of the past four drafts. But offensive line has been a bigger need. Mike Zimmer’s defense is good and has a lot of talent, but the offense will struggle with no talent on the line. What do you think? -- Gerald Ruzicka
The first two rounds of the draft is not the only place you can acquire talent. Teams can acquire talented players in middle rounds, such as when the Vikings selected Pat Elflein in the 3rd round two years ago. You can find talent in free agency, which is where the Vikings acquired Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, who are both starters. You can also develop talent from the middle and late rounds and from undrafted free agency. The Vikings have done that with defensive ends such as Everson and Brian Robison (both 4th-rounders) and with receivers such as Stefon Diggs (4th round) and Adam Thielen (undrafted). The Vikings have used valuable resources on the offense lately, such as signing Kirk Cousins to a significant contract this offseason, signing Latavius Murray in free agency last offseason and using a 2nd-round pick on Dalvin Cook, so it’s not as if the Vikings are leaving the offense unattended.
What and who are you most exited for in this year’s Organized Team Activities? -- Jacob Long Beach, CA
Yes! OTAs begin on Tuesday of this week and it is an exciting time because there are 10 of them between now and June 7 and that leads into the mandatory minicamp in mid-June. OTAs and minicamp represent the closes thing to football that we see before training camp begins in late July. What I’m most excited to see is how the offense looks with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and quarterback Kirk Cousins. Who I’m most excited to see is Sheldon Richardson in Zimmer’s defense and Cook as he continues to come back from his knee injury.
I recall a couple of years ago, the Vikings had joint practices with the Bengals. Will the practices with the Jaguars be the same? Is the difference between a joint practice and a scrimmage that a practice just means running a bunch of plays rather than a simulation of a game? -- Gordon
Practices can feature time periods that are more compartmentalized than what you get during a scrimmage. During a scrimmage, it’s 11 versus 11 in a simulated game environment. That doesn’t yield a great on-field teaching environment. A scrimmage is still valuable experience and coaches and teach on the sidelines between possessions and then in the film room the next day. But a joint practices affords an opportunity for players to learn right there on the field and it exposes an individual player to more learning opportunities. Take Mike Hughes, for example. In a scrimmage, he might be on the field for 15-20 plays and he may only get one or two passes thrown his way. In a joint practice, though, Hughes is going to have a handful of reps in one-on-ones, another handful in seven-on-seven and several snaps in 11-on-11.
The Vikings have the best stadium in the League. But I've been waiting to see us play in New Orleans for an away game trip. The Saints played a regular season game in Minnesota last year and will in 2018 and 2020. What gives with the league schedule makers? -- Jacob Moon
The League’s schedule makers don’t have any discretion when it comes to who teams play and where they play them. That is all determined based on the scheduling formula. The entire process of how the NFL’s schedule is created is summarized very well right here. The Saints played in Minnesota last year because the Vikings were scheduled to play each team in the NFC South in 2017. In that rotation, it was the Vikings turn to host; in 2020 when the Vikings play the NFC South again, the game will be played in New Orleans. The Saints play in Minnesota as part of a different rotation in 2018. The Vikings and Saints will play this season because they each finished in first place in their division. The Vikings will play each team in the NFC West in 2018 as well as the same-place finishers in the other two NFC divisions – the South (New Orleans) and the East (Philadelphia). It is the Vikings turn to host when playing the corresponding finisher in the South since the last time this rotation came around (2016) the Vikings played at Carolina.