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Monday Morning Mailbag: Teddy Set Up For Success

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With the changes we made to the offensive line this offseason, do you think it's reasonable to assume that we will see a dramatic decrease in the number of sacks allowed this year? -- Ali

Yes, it is well within reason to expect a decrease in sacks allowed this year. In 2015, the Vikings had the fewest passing attempts in the NFL (454) but the sixth-most sacks allowed (45). Two reasons to expect this number to go down are added competition and the addition of Tony Sparano as offensive line coach. With both RT Phil Loadholt and C John Sullivan returning from injury plus the addition of potential starters Alex Boone at LG and Andre Smith at RT, there will be plenty of competition for spots on the depth chart. The man overseeing that competition will be Sparano, who has generated big-time improvement in his first year at previous stops in Miami and Oakland. Also, it's fair to assume QB Teddy Bridgewater will take another step in development, with taking fewer sacks a part of that process.

Overall, I'm happy with how the Vikings drafted and with the acquisitions they made in a free agency to strengthen the offensive line. Now that these changes are in place and we've given Teddy Bridgewater some protection and top talent to the throw to, what does he have to do to prove himself? What are we looking to see Teddy improve overall? I get the feeling that if we don't see it from him this year, everyone is going to start calling for a new QB and we'll be back to square one. -- Laura Moser

Win games. That's what he needs to continue to do to prove himself. Last year, that required him to take care of the ball, get the offense in the right plays, eat up the clock and execute well down the stretch. Whatever it takes this year, he needs to be able to come through. Some weeks, that may require similar performances to last year. Other weeks, it may require him to air it out a bit more. What's important for Bridgewater is to recognize what needs to be done in any given moment and then get himself and his teammates in a position to do what is required. QBs, more than any other position in the game, are judged first and foremost by wins vs. losses. Bridgewater's done a good job of winning games so far in his young career, helping lead the team to 11 wins and a division title last season in just his second year in the NFL.

Moritz Boehringer seems like a nice pickup. I was rooting for him to get drafted by the Vikings. Now I wonder how much can we expect out of him this season, and how long before he can be a contributor as a receiver? -- Luigi DeNegri

The Vikings selection of Boehringer was the story of Day 3 of the draft, no question. And it was a great story. But, as head coach Mike Zimmer said on the first day of rookie minicamp, the feel-good story is over. I didn't read into that statement as a specific message to Boehringer, rather it's coach's way of saying it's time to get down to the business of shaping the roster for 2016. It's ok to embrace Boehringer's story, but it's also important to temper expectations for him so they are in line with many of the other (late-round) draft picks. Boehringer, in particular, as a lot to learn between now and roster cutdown time.

Why did the Vikings draft Moritz Boehringer? Could they have just signed him as a free agent, or did he declare himself to be draft-eligible so they had to draft him? -- Chad Ekanger

They drafted Boehringer because that ensured they would secure his rights. Had the Vikings not taken him in the 6th round, then another team could've selected him and the Vikings would've lost out on a player they wanted to select. Even if he would've gone undrafted, the Vikings would've had to compete with the other 31 teams to sign him as a free agent. As great of a story as Boehringer's is and as much as the Vikings appreciate that part of his profile, they also like Boehringer as a prospect and it's their vision for him as a player more than anything else that led them to selecting him where they did.

There's no way to really determine a grade for a draft class until after a couple of years, so with that, what grade would you give to the Vikings 2014 draft class now that two years has passed? -- Jim Nesseth

A . I don't see any other way to grade it. The 1st-round haul was LB Anthony Barr and Bridgewater, two cornerstones of each side of the ball. Jerick McKinnon was a 3rd-round choice and has gotten better each season, plus he can contribute on multiple phases of special teams. And then DE Scott Crichton (3rd round), S Antone Exum (6th), DT Shamar Stephen (7th), LB Brandon Watts (7th) and CB Jabari Price (7th) are all still on the team. All told, the Vikings grabbed a potential franchise QB, one of their best defensive players and a bunch of contributing players in the 2014 draft. They selected 10 players in 2014, and eight of them are still on the team.

Just wanted to take time and express how happy I am with the front office for yet another great draft class. Every news outlet has top grades for this year's draft class. I believe if any teams has the coaches in place to develop these raw, athletic players, it's the Vikings. With drafts like last season's and again this year's, the Vikings are positioning themselves to be highly competitive for the long-term. Great draft class and a great time to be a Vikings fan! -- Jorge Cordero

This is the general sentiment from fans and I am pleased that is the case. Fans have every reason to feel this way given what the team has done in the past several drafts, adding players such as Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes in 2013, Bridgewater, Anthony Barr and Jerick McKinnon in 2014, and Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs in 2015. But, as is the case with any draft class, only time will truly tell how the Vikings did in 2016's draft. I look forward to this class contributing as greatly to team success as the last several have.

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