Monday Morning Mailbag: Who Could Emerge In 2018, 'Super Bowl or Bust' Mindset

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What are your thoughts on using our first two picks on offensive linemen? I’m concerned that we need to protect our investment in Kirk Cousins given the losses to the offensive line. -- Chris Smith

Using two picks in the top 62 on one position would represent a significant investment in that position. We all know how important the offensive line is to a team’s success, so from that standpoint I would be on board with that strategy. There are five starters and then of course you want solid backups at center, guard and tackle, so there are plenty of positions to fill even for teams returning multiple starters. I would say, though, that it’s not wise to predetermine which positions you’re going to address in the draft. It’s better to assess the situation when you’re on the clock and make sure you’re selecting players who are at the top of your board, not just players who fit a perceived need at that particular time.

Favorite thing about the signing of Kendall Wright? -- Dakota James

It gives the Vikings a great chance to improve the WR3 spot from season’s past. Over the past three seasons, the Vikings WR3 has produced an average of 35 receptions and 365 receiving yards per year with a total of two touchdowns. In that same span, Wright has averaged 41 receptions and 479 receiving yards with a total of seven touchdowns. Wright’s numbers aren’t drastically better than Vikings WR3 numbers, but they are superior plus Wright has a 1,000-yard season to his credit. He’s a tried and true NFL contributor and he will give Laquon Treadwell and any other rostered receivers a tough competition for playing time.

With the signing of Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson, there has been lots of talk about Super Bowl or bust. What are your thoughts on this? -- Clinton Reistoffer

I don’t pay much mind to the whole “or bust” ultimatum because I don’t really know what “bust” means. Does it mean bust up the core of the team? If so, it’s a widely overused term because rarely do you see teams bust up their nucleus after not winning the Super Bowl. The Vikings goal is and should be to win the Super Bowl, and it should be that every year. If a team doesn’t have that as one of its goals, then why is it even competing? But failing to reach that goal in a given year doesn’t mean you are going to start from scratch the following season, and that is certainly not the case for the 2018 Vikings going into 2019. This roster is in great shape to compete for a Super Bowl not just this upcoming season but for many seasons to come, particularly with the defense being the League’s best and with most of the starters being in their prime. Now add in the Cousins signing and the Vikings should certainly have their sights set on Super Bowl 53.

Who could be a Viking that saw limited playing time last year that could make a big impact this upcoming season? -- Mark Simpson Cedar Falls, IA

We won’t count Dalvin Cook in this conversation, although after seeing just over three games of action last season he would certainly fit the bill. Other candidates in this conversation could include defensive linemen Tashawn Bower, Jaleel Johnson and Stephen Weatherly as well as receiver Stacy Coley and offensive lineman Aviante Collins. Of these players, I really like Johnson’s situation because the Vikings lost Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen, which gives Jaleel Johnson a tremendous opportunity to be first man up as a reserve at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson had great production a couple of seasons ago in this role and I could see Jaleel Johnson having the same kind of success in a similar role if he improves during the offseason program and training camp this spring and summer.

First and foremost, congrats to Dennis Ryan for being recognized and earning the Equipment Manager of the Year! On that topic, I’ve always been interested to see behind the scenes videos of rookies coming through. Would it be possible to show a walkthrough video of an incoming player getting sized for all the equipment and maybe what goes into even why players choose to wear certain facemasks and why they change back and forth? -- Jeff Stenson

Yes, congrats to Dennis on his well-deserved award. I am one of literally hundreds of people who can vouch for the type of employee, man and friend Dennis is. He is a Viking through and through and I was happy to hear he was once again named the Whitey Zimmerman Equipment Manager of the Year. We actually do show this part of a rookie’s transition to the NFL in our annual “Meet the Pick” video that we do. It’s one small part of a longer video, but we typically do include that part of their day and we’ll be sure to do so this year, too!

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