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Can you give fans one player at each position group that we should watch in camp and preseason that maybe we'd otherwise pay less attention to?
-- Jeff Kilty
Let’s do this…I’ll provide one player at each offensive position today in the Mailbag, but to get one player at each defensive position you’ll have to watch this week’s Pick 6, which will be posted by Wednesday. For offense, let’s go with:
QB: Trevor Siemian – Of course all eyes will be on Kirk Cousins and most Vikings fans have high hopes for Kyle Sloter, but remember that Siemian had 24 starts in Denver over the past two seasons and is probably the front runner to win the QB2 job.
RB: Mack Brown – A pair of rookies – Mike Boone and Roc Thomas – will look to carve out a niche on the Vikings roster, but don’t rule out Brown, a third-year back, from topping them all during training camp. He flashed a bit during the offseason program.
WR: Stacy Coley – A leg injury interrupted what looked to be a promising offseason program for Coley. Assuming he’s healthy and ready to go for camp, Coley may well pick up where he left off and earn a more prominent role than expected in new coordinator John DeFilippo’s offense.
TE: Blake Bell – A versatile player at the position, Bell’s absence was felt down the stretch and in the playoffs last season. Block, catch, run, special teams…Bell can do a lot of things to help.
OL: Josh Andrews –DeFilippo was hired away from the Eagles in February and it was a matter of days before Andrews, a former Eagles offensive lineman in 2017, was signed by the Vikings. There’s something to be said for that. Plus, we all know offensive line is a focal point heading into 2018, so Andrews’ addition is one to watch.
Last year the Vikings had no turnovers in the red zone. Kirk Cousins had three interceptions. He has had some in practice already. How will he get past this?
-- Chad Canesi
I wouldn’t fret about the interceptions in practice. Of course you’d rather they not happen, but you have to grant Cousins and Co. some grace as they installed a new offense. Plus, they are going against the best defense in the NFL on every snap. Head coach Mike Zimmer has his sights set on red zone success heading into 2018, and as we saw with 3rd down defense and short-yardage rushing a year ago, the team responds when Zimmer has them focused on something during practice.
Our offensive line is being graded out at below average by a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 28th. I know you believe our unit is solid and deep but I am concerned at right tackle. Mike Remmers should be moved to guard. For argument sake, let’s put Remmers at guard. Then our right tackle choices are Rashod Hill, Aviante Collins or Bryan O’Neill. I believe we need a veteran right tackle and I pray one will come available as teams cut down to 53.
-- Chris Kulak
I’m never against adding a talented player, so if a veteran lineman is available then by all means the Vikings should take a look. But I’m ok with the bodies they have on the roster right now. There are some names Chris left out in the question who should compete for spots on the depth chart, such as Andrews and Tom Compton. But Hill has shown the ability to be more than serviceable at right tackle, you have to give a second-round pick (O’Neill) a chance to compete and let’s see how Collins grows with a season and a full offseason program now under his belt. I know this runs counter to how most people are thinking right now, but I like the Vikings chances of having quality starters and depth along the offensive line when the season starts.
Do you see Vikings playing Anthony Barr at defensive end to judge his value there and then keep him there if he can hold the corner?
-- Randy Nelson
Given that Barr is a defensive mainstay at outside linebacker and that he’s so good in coverage, plus the fact that the Vikings have quality starters and depth at defensive end as it is, it’s hard to see Barr making a full-time transition to end in 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, to see Barr lined up as a defensive end just to give the opposing offense a new look from time-to-time. Zimmer and his defensive staff are good at being creative and finding ways to use talented players all over the field. Barr is a great chess piece to use in such a manner.
Three factors I look at this year for us to win the Super Bowl: Injuries, the NFC is loaded with good teams and luck. What do you think?
-- Curtis Moore
Yes, I agree those three factors will likely be significant in the outcome of the Vikings 2018 campaign. I’d bundle injuries and luck into one package, but it does seem like the teams who advance deep into the playoffs are teams who’ve found good fortune along the way AND are teams who’ve found ways to overcome injuries to key players. Just look at the Vikings and Eagles in 2017. The Vikings went 13-3 despite losing their starting quarterback and running back before the end of Week 4, and the Eagles won the Super Bowl despite losing Carson Wentz late in the season. The NFC is definitely loaded with quality teams, so that makes the path to and through the playoffs that much tougher to navigate. It will be a wild and fun year in the NFC and the Vikings are poised to be right in the thick of it.
Success in the NFL is a fickle mistress based on the level of competition that each team presents throughout the season, regardless of their individual records as the season progresses. This is no less true for a Vikings team that seems poised to compete as well as any team out there in the upcoming season after seamlessly transitioning last year’s roster to this year with some exciting additions. I am wary of any Super Bowl talk the team is getting before they’ve even played a preseason snap, but can’t wait to see how this team operates in the coming months and expect to see the continuation of good sound football from the guys week in and week out. The season can’t start soon enough!
-- Myles Swenson
Well-stated, Miles! It’s time. Football season is upon us, and that’s a beautiful thing!