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Monday Morning Mailbag: Still Take an OL or RB In Round 2?

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So everyone knows about our new offensive tackles, (Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers), but what about the interior line? Assuming Alex Boone and Joe Berger are in their normal spots, who fills Brandon Fusco's shoes? -- Patrick Fallon Phoenix, AZ

There are still two pools of players the Vikings can choose from to beef up their offensive line – the remaining free agents and the draft class. Whomever the Vikings acquire from those two populations will compete with guys like Jeremiah Sirles, Willie Beavers, Zac Kerin and others currently on the roster for that starting right guard spot. It wouldn't be a surprise to me to see Sirles be the guy who works in that spot once the team begins its offseason program.

I like the fact that we signed two offensive linemen in free agency. However, last year we brought in Boone and Andre Smith and our offensive line still ended up not doing so well due to injury. What are we going to do to ensure we will not end up in the same scenario we did last year? Knowing what happened last with injury, shouldn't we really be looking at depth on the offensive line so we don't end up the same as last year? -- Vinny Newcomb

Honestly, I don't know if there's any reasonable plan the Vikings could've enacted last offseason that could've equipped them to handle the injuries that happened along the offensive line last year. The Vikings used nine – *nine! *– different starting combinations up front last season, and most of that destabilization was because of injury. By signing two more starting offensive linemen in free agency and speaking quite openly about the correlation of longevity and quality play along the offensive line to the use of early-round picks on linemen, it's clear to me that GM Rick Spielman understands that the offensive line needs to be addressed and has committed serious resources to fixing it.

In the second round, teams normally select the best player available regardless of position. Who do you think the Vikings will select and who would you select: an offensive lineman or a running back? We have a need at both spots. -- Ossie Gay

The Vikings generally subscribe to the theory of taking the best player available when they are on the clock, therefore there's no realistic way to predict who they will take in the second round. If I was on the clock and an offensive lineman and a running back were equally graded at the top of my board, I would lean toward the offensive lineman because I think it's tougher to find a contributor at those positions after the second round than it is to find a contributor at running back after the second round. About the only way I'd select the running back in that scenario is if the drop off to the next running back was significantly steeper than the drop off to the next offensive lineman.

Could the Vikings have their eye on a quarterback in their first three picks? I think Davis Webb would be available in the second or third round. He'd be a good fit to develop as a potential franchise quarterback at a value draft price and would provide needed security and a challenge to Taylor Heinicke. -- Peter Marinello

The Vikings could certainly select a quarterback if the first few rounds of this year's draft. With Teddy Bridgewater's timetable for a return still uncertain and with the only other quarterback on the roster having very limited experience, the Vikings are a candidate to add a veteran and/or look to the draft for a developmental prospect. I'm sure Webb would be a quality candidate, but I'm even surer there are several others out there who would also be quality selections at various points in the draft. Lots of game experience, lots of wins and not many injuries or off-field red flags are a few qualifications that would make sense to desire in one of those quarterbacks.

Do you think the Vikings could still draft a running back such as a hard runner like Joe Mixon? Some find that teams should take the best player on the board while others feel that they should solidify the best at a position of their need. What do you think? -- Dylan F. New Jersey

I know it's a mantra that may seem tired or fake, but it's true – teams try to take the best available player on the board. Free agency is where you attack your needs. The draft is where you infuse your roster with talent and where you plan for the future. I've used this analogy before and I'll use it again – free agency is like going to the grocery store and getting what you need, while the draft is like buying seeds and planting them in your garden. One avenue is a way to fix things immediately with plug-and-play contributors, while the other avenue is about selecting, developing, procuring and hoping for a blossom.

As for the running back question, yes, I do think the Vikings are a candidate to draft a running back this year, even after signing Latavius Murray and with Jerick McKinnon on the roster.

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