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Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings A Pass-First Offense?

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Could the Vikings consider Nick Mangold as a short-term solution and move Joe Berger to guard? -- Eddie Halvorson

They could, but there's been no indication that's the kind of route the Vikings are considering. With a veteran center already in place (Berger), it seems more likely the Vikings would stick with what they know and lean on the draft as a place to build for the future at center, rather than add another veteran center and then ask Berger to switch positions after he's been solid at center for the past two seasons. But, you never know. Plans can change deep in the offseason.

Do you think the Vikings will look at signing CB/S Leon Hall to add depth at both positions? He's familiar with Mike Zimmer's defense and can play multiple positions in the secondary. -- Jason W. Bellevue, WI

Hall's familiarity with Zimmer's defense and his position flexibility would increase the chances of the Vikings taking interest in him. Also, Zimmer did say last week at the owners' meetings in Arizona that he has not ruled out the possibility of adding a veteran nickel cornerback to compete. But my hunch, at least for now, is the team has been planning for young cornerbacks like Mack Alexander and Trae Waynes to step up in 2017 when it was known Captain Munnerlyn would likely be gone and Terence Newman's status would be year-to-year, so it won't surprise me if those young guys get a crack at it first.

With Sam Bradford being more familiar with the offense, Adam Thielen emerging as a solid contributor at WR, and Latavius Murray being a better pass catcher, do you see us converting to more of a pass-first offense instead of smash-mouth, ground-and-pound approach? -- Evan Beckford

There were 14 teams who threw the ball on at least 60% of the downs in 2016. Compare that to just nine in 2011 and seven in each of 2008-10, and obviously the trend is for teams to throw the ball more and more. Still, though, teams want to be good running teams, even if they have prolific passing attacks. Of the 12 playoffs teams in 2016, six had top-10 rushing attacks as opposed to five who had top-10 passing attacks. When you can run the ball well, you tend to be able to score with more frequency in the red zone and in goal-to-go situations. Running the ball is important, both from a production standpoint and from a setting-the-tone standpoint. There are some significant changes that have happened to the Vikings offense in the last eight months, but I think it's more about creating balance and versatility than it is about creating an offense that is pass-first.

Will TJ Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles compete at right guard while Mike Remmers plays right tackle? Also, will the draft focus on getting the best player available in the second round or are we looking to get our offensive tackle of the future? -- Roydon Richards

That's not for us to decide here in the Mailbag, but yes, I would guess right now it's Remmers who is slotted to play right tackle and then there's an open competition for the starting right guard job, with Sirles the man to beat at the moment. We still have the draft, the offseason program and plenty of time to sign free agents, so the right guard spot is wide open. As far as the second round goes, we can't be sure right now what position the Vikings will address, but we can be sure of one thing: GM Rick Spielman will not predetermine a player or even a position at pick No. 48. He'll take the highest-graded player.

What do you think are the chances the Vikings draft a WR in this year's draft? Charles Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson are gone, plus the Vikings have lost TE Rhett Ellison. Everyone is talking about RB, but it looks like the WR corps is depleted, too. -- Paul Severson

I'd say depleted is a bit strong of a description for the Vikings WR group. Stefon Diggs and Thielen are both knocking on the door of 1000-yard seasons and Laquon Treadwell, despite a lack of production in his rookie season, is a first-round talent who should see more opportunity with Johnson and Patterson gone. With that being said, I also think WR is a position the Vikings could address in the draft. They have five selections in the first rounds and eight selections overall, so a WR winding up in Minnesota during the draft isn't a stretch in the least.

How good can our defense be? We are young and hungry. We can be elite if we stay healthy. Defense wins championships. Your thoughts? -- Gerald Goblirsch

Teams win championships, not individual phases. Granted, one phase can be particularly strong and can be the identity of the team, perhaps, but I don't think you'd find any GM or coach who has won a championship say it was because of one side of the ball. I do think the Vikings have a defensive structure – coaches, players, scheme – in place that is good enough to be a part of a Super Bowl winner, though. From 2014-16 under Zimmer, the Vikings have ranked 14th, 13th and third in total defense and 11th, fifth and sixth in points allowed. And there's no reason to suspect any sort of precipitous drop off in defensive production in 2017. In fact, several key defenders are ascending players (Hunter, Kendricks, Rhodes, Waynes) while several others are in the midst of their primes (Barr, Griffen, Joseph, Smith).

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