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Monday Morning Mailbag: Possibly Drafting a QB, Up-and-Coming Offensive Linemen & Barr's Role in 2020

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Do you think the Vikings will go after a quarterback in the draft?

— Jordan Nelson

I have a crazy draft idea sparked by what the Chiefs did after Alex Smith's fine season in moving up to draft Patrick Mahomes. Let me start by saying that I like [Kirk] Cousins and think he is a really good QB, much like Smith before his injury. My idea is this: if Tua Tagovailoa is available at 5, put an aggressive package together to trade with Miami to move up and grab Tua and have him sit for a year behind Cousins. Or, even crazier, send Cousins to Miami for the #5 and Ryan Fitzpatrick in return (or sign him if he is a free agent) and have Tua sit for a year behind Fitzmagic. Swing for the fence!

— Paul in Connecticut, a lifelong Vikings fan

We'll start with a pair of quarterback-centric emails, both of which raise interesting points.

The Vikings last drafted a quarterback in 2014, and that was Teddy Bridgewater. With Sean Mannion's contract set to expire at the start of the new league year in March, perhaps the Vikings add a quarterback in the draft if he doesn't return. But even if he does, maybe Minnesota brings in another guy to compete behind Mannion and Jake Browning?

The decision to draft a quarterback could also depend on whether or not the Vikings have decided to extend Kirk Cousins or not. If the Vikings extend Cousins for a few more seasons, then drafting a quarterback in the first round isn't a likely scenario, as Paul wants to do.

With the 2020 offseason in full swing, now is that time that people come up with any and all scenarios for their favorite team. Both Jordan and Paul certainly bring up an interesting question as to whether the Vikings will address QB depth in the offseason. Cousins, of course, currently has one year remaining on his three-year contract, so his future will be an area of focus this offseason.

Remember, too, that the Vikings are on the heels of a decade defined by injuries and turnover at the position. From 2010-2019, Minnesota had 13 different quarterbacks start at least one game. It is everyone's hope that there's a bit more consistency over the next 10 seasons.

Regardless of what happens, there will be lots of chatter about the Vikings quarterbacks over the next few months, that's for sure.

View the best photos from Vikings team photographers of the offensive line during the 2019 season.

Which of the current Vikings offensive linemen have a chance of making a big difference next year, and what do they need to work on in the offseason?

— Jimmy Flaskerud

I'll give you a few options with this one, Jimmy.

Brian O'Neill took a noticeable step in Year 2, and could cement himself as one of the game's top right tackles with another strong season inn 2020. According to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, O'Neill did not allow a single sack during the regular season.

Garrett Bradbury will also be looked upon to improve after getting plenty of experience as a rookie. The center from North Carolina State started all 16 games, and led all Vikings offensive players with 989 snaps, a number that would have been higher if the Vikings chose not to give reserves a chance to play in the meaningless Week 17 game against the Bears.

You might also want to keep your eyes on a pair of 2019 rookies in 2020. Guard Dru Samia (a fourth-rounder out of Oklahoma) and tackle Oli Udoh (a sixth-rounder out of Elon) essentially redshirted in 2019, as both played 31 snaps next to each other in that home game against Chicago. Both could challenge for starting spots in 2020 if they show enough improvement in offseason practices and training camp.

View the top photos of Vikings LB Anthony Barr from the 2019 season.

[There could] be a lot of moves this offseason [with] cuts and restructures. One idea I've kind of gone through my head is: if [Everson] Griffen is cut, do you think the Vikings will use [Anthony] Barr more as a pass rusher on 3rd down, with a little splash of [Ifeadi] Odenigbo, [especially] with how well [Eric] Wilson played? I do feel like going for a vet during the second wave of FA is also a great idea. Thanks for everything you guys do at VEN.

— Brandon Peterson from Spicer, MN

It remains to be seen whether or not Everson is back, but teammates and coaches have always spoken highly of him as a leader and captain in recent years. If the Vikings don't bring him back, your idea does make some sense.

If Griffen isn't on the roster, perhaps the defensive line consists of the combination of Hunter, Barr, Armon Watts, Hercules Mata'afa and Odenigbo. Stephen Weatherly could also be mentioned in there if he is re-signed this offseason.

In this scenario, the Vikings will likely be in the nickel defense, meaning they have five defensive backs on the field. If — and that is a big if — Barr is used as a pass rusher near the line of scrimmage, then Wilson would theoretically take his spot as a linebacker alongside Eric Kendricks.

Barr and Kendricks have cemented themselves as the two linebackers in the nickel package — and have had plenty of success both rushing the passer and in pass coverage — while letting their teammates up front mix and match along the line. Remember, Hunter and Griffen lined up on the interior against the Saints in the Wild Card round and got consistent pressure on Drew Brees.

Lots to think about, but we'll know more on how things could shake out after roster decisions are made.

I've always been a fan of Xaiver Rhodes, I know he's been [criticized] a lot this past season. Do you think the Vikings will re-sign him if he plays up to par this year? If we let any more of our CBs go, I'd say Trae Waynes on a trade during the draft. What do you think?

— K.C. Moss III

Good question on Xavier, but need to clarify something first: Xavier is under contract for the next few seasons, so the Vikings don't need to re-sign him in the immediate future.

Xavier has been one of the best cornerbacks in team history, but has had his ups and downs in the past two seasons. If he is on the roster in 2020, the Vikings will hope he can raise his game a little bit. But if the Vikings decide to release him and he's no longer here, that will certainly be a sizable void to fill in the secondary. He knows the scheme and is close with his teammates, and simply plugging in someone new may take time to yield results.

Waynes is one of numerous defensive backs scheduled to be a free agent in March — a group that also includes Anthony Harris, Mackensie Alexander, Andrew Sendejo and Jayron Kearse — so the only way we could trade him on draft night is to sign him to a contract and then deal him to another team. That's certainly a possibility, but likely a slim one. The bigger question is whether or not the Vikings and Waynes' camp decide to agree on a new contract or part ways.

That, like a handful of other potential roster moves, will all shake out here in the next month or so.

The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine runs from Feb. 24 through March 1, and that's usually when buzz begins building about contract negotiations, especially with free agency looming in mid-March.

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