Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Presented by

Monday Morning Mailbag: NFL Combine Arrives with Vikings Weighing Decisions

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town in the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

Good morning and happy 2024 NFL Scouting Combine Week to you all. A group of Vikings Entertainment Network folks are heading to the airport in a bit and will be wheels up for Indianapolis as the NFL convenes once again to screen a total of 321 invited draft-eligible players.

"Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen will host the 9 to Noon radio show on Tuesday and Wednesday with help from Vikings Radio Network analyst Pete Bercich. VEN will be recording segments and posting on

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell are scheduled to participate in podium sessions on Tuesday, which will be streamed live on and by the Vikings official social media accounts. The sessions also will be available on later Tuesday.

VEN's Gabe Henderson and Tatum Everett will conduct 1-on-1 interviews with experts, and we'll also have editorial coverage hitting

The week will open with a couple of days of media sessions by NFL personnel as the evaluation process ramps up and cycles through position groups in a lather, rinse, repeat format.

View photos of current Vikings players during their time at the NFL Scouting Combine from previous years.

Defensive linemen & linebackers are grouped together, followed by defensive backs and tight ends in the next wave of prospects. Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs are together; offensive linemen, kickers and punters round out the groupings. A day-by-day breakdown follows below.

Monday, Feb. 26: DL & LB (registration, pre-exam, orientation, team interviews); DB & TE (early player arrivals)

Tuesday, Feb. 27: DL & LB (general medical exam, pre-ordered studies, team interviews); DB & TE (registration, pre-exam, orientation, team interviews); RB, QB & WR (registration, orientation, team interviews)

Wednesday, Feb. 28: DL & LB (orthopedic exam, media interviews, NFLPA meeting, team interviews); DB & TE (general medical exam, pre-ordered studies, team interviews); RB, QB & WR (pre-exam, NFLPA meeting, team interviews); OL, K & P (registration, orientation, team interviews)

Thursday, Feb. 29: DL & LB (measurements, on-field workout); DB & TE (orthopedic exam, media interviews, NFLPA meeting, team interviews); RB, QB & WR (general medical exam, pre-ordered studies, broadcast interviews); OL, K & P (pre-exam, NFLPA meeting, team interviews)

Friday, March 1: DL & LB (bench press, broadcast interviews, depart combine) DB & TE (measurements, on-field workout); RB, QB & WR (orthopedic exam, media interviews, team interviews); OL, K & P (general medical exam, pre-ordered studies, broadcast interviews)

Saturday, March 2: DB & TE (bench press, broadcast interviews, depart combine); RB, QB & WR (measurements, on-field workout); OL, K & P (orthopedic exam, media interviews, team interviews)

Sunday, March 3: RB, QB & WR (bench press, depart combine); OL, K & P (measurements, on-field workout)

Monday, March 4: OL, K & P (bench press, depart combine)

Whew, that's a chunk of logistics for an event that sparked in the 1980s from the desire to provide teams with a centralized collection of medical information and has grown to include workouts open to the public (Inside Look) and the Combine Experience. **Fans can attend both** for free after downloading the NFL OnePass app.

By the time the final player leaves Indy, there will be less than two weeks before the start of the new league year (March 13). That will bring the opening of free agency and the beginning of the end of speculation season. Moves made by teams during free agency likely will impact decisions leading up to the draft at the end of April.

I would like to see the Vikings draft the best defensive tackle available in draft. Four of the last five Super Bowl winners had future Hall of Fame players — Chris Jones (Chiefs) and Aaron Donald (Rams). The Vikings will be dealing with the Lions All-Pro guard, and they need somebody who will clog up the middle and put pressure on QBs.

— Craig Rotz in Boston, Massachusetts

Craig is correct in linking the difference-making productivity of Jones (another one of my fellow Mississippi State alums) and Donald in helping their teams win Super Bowls, but their squads (the Chiefs three times and the Rams once) also had multiple other strengths.

I'd throw in that the impact of the Tampa Bay defensive front, which included 1.5 sacks of Patrick Mahomes by Ndamukong Suh (he also has a case for Canton), was incredibly instrumental in keeping Mahomes from getting going in Super Bowl LV. The Bucs recorded nine QB hits, and the defense limited him to a passer rating of 52.3.

Detroit's interior offensive line features Minnesota native Frank Ragnow, a three-time Pro Bowler, at center. Guards Jonah Jackson (one-time Pro Bowler) and Graham Glasgow are pending free agents. Left tackle Taylor Decker and right tackle Penei Sewell (a two-time Pro Bowler and 2023 First-Team All-Pro) are scheduled to return.

Defensive tackles and edge players have been projected to the Vikings with the 11th overall pick by multiple prognosticators in each of our first two Mock Draft Trackers (**Version 1.0** and **Version 2.0**). DT names mentioned so far have been Jer'Zhan Newton (Illinois) and Byron Murphy II (Texas). Edge players mentioned so far have been Dallas Turner (Alabama), Jared Verse (Florida State), Laiatu Latu (UCLA) and Chop Robinson (Penn State).

I think we would be more effective with a 4-3 than 3-4 because we can't get sustained pressure on the QB. We have become blitz crazy. Would you agree?

— Christopher Bryant in Minneapolis

Christopher and Craig are both seeking boosts in the ability of the Vikings to affect opposing quarterbacks, either by adding personnel or adjusting scheme.

Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores is back for a second season after innovating an approach to try to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses. Flores' creativity (and the group's execution once the unit hit its stride) helped Minnesota improve in multiple statistical metrics from 2022.

He seemed to draw contrasts in what some define as a blitz during one of his media sessions last fall.

The fine folks at Next Gen Stats tallied an NFL-leading 342 blitzes by Minnesota last season (the Giants were next at 312, the Bucs were third at 287, the Chiefs were fourth at 244, and the Broncos were fifth at 241). That led to a calculated blitz rate of 50.6 percent by the Vikings (also led the NFL, ahead of the Giants, Bucs, Broncos and Chiefs). New York's blitz rate was calculated at 49.2 percent, followed by 41.8 percent by Tampa Bay, 37.6 percent by Denver and 37.5 percent by Kansas City.

NGS credited Minnesota with a quarterback pressure percentage of 35.1, which was second-highest among those five teams but ranked 17th in the NFL. The Vikings sack percentage of 6.4 ranked fourth among those five teams and 21st overall.

Flores is likely to be multiple with his approach again. His experience in New England's personnel department, combined with familiarity with the existing roster should help the Vikings as they put together the defense for 2024.

By the way, the retention of Flores, Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips and Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels marks the first time since 2016-17 that the Vikings are returning all three coordinators (offense, defense and special teams) for consecutive seasons, and that was with Pat Shurmur finishing 2016 as the interim OC, George Edwards as DC and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer).

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.

Hello! I have a big question about the Vikings. Why haven't we gotten into the Super Bowl? Kirk [Cousins] is a really good quarterback, so please explain this.

— Hannah Godlewski

Coming off the 13-3 showing in that 2017 season with reserve QB Case Keenum leading the charge and tossing the Minneapolis Miracle pass in the playoffs (before the dream ended with a thud in the NFC Championship), the Vikings felt like Cousins could be the final piece for Minnesota to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since January 1977.

But the move has not resulted in that outcome. The churn at offensive coordinator for each of Cousins' first five seasons with Minnesota didn't help, but there's obviously a team farther south on I-35 that withstood the departure of Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy from 2022 to 2023 in order to repeat as champs.

Cousins was playing at a high level when he suffered his season-ending Achilles injury in Week 8 at Green Bay. I'm on record (and not the only one) as saying I believe the Vikings would have made the playoffs with Cousins playing at that level in the second half of the season. Would it have been enough to overcome some of the other injuries that mounted down the stretch and make it to Vegas?

Quarterbacks have won 11 of the past 15 Super Bowl MVP awards, so a high-level of play at the position is important in getting there and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but other factors certainly come into play.

I think the Vikings are going to let Cousins walk. When Kirk stated the contract isn't about the dollars, it's about what the dollars represent, I don't know why that statement concluded that Kirk might take a discount. It's about how much the team values you, period. Let's say the Vikings offered to make Cousins the top paid QB in the league, Kirk is not going to say, 'No thanks, I'll take less money so you can sign more pieces for the team, but thanks for making me feel wanted.' How many teams pay their QB and No. 1 receiver top dollar? They have to get a contract done with [Justin] Jefferson and move on from Kirk. They have to start getting younger and stop rolling out the veterans past their prime. As the old saying goes in football, it's better to release players a year too early than a year too late. I'm anxiously waiting on Kwesi's and O'Connell's decision on Kirk.

— Al in Denmark, Wisconsin

I'm absolutely certain Cousins will be a topic of conversation for any media session that includes Adofo-Mensah or O'Connell in Indianapolis. We'll relay their comments on the quarterback.

Dollars mean different things to different people, depending on multiple factors. Is a higher monetary amount attractive enough to offset potential nonmonetary costs such as starting over in a new market this deep into a career?

Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell have to come to their decision, but so does Cousins.

My comment is about players that want to break the bank versus players who are willing to negotiate fairly for themselves and the team. Yes, I am talking about Cousins and Jefferson. The same players that are getting paid to make product endorsements. If they want to break the bank, then I say trade them and get more players that want to make a great salary and play with players that want to win for a great winning team versus win for greed. Not sure this will get published but what say you? They say there is no "I" in TEAM!!

— Tom M. in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. Army EOD SGM (Ret)

First off, thanks to Tom for his service.

Athletes' salaries earned from their playing careers are so different than the long game that most of us play over the course of our careers. I don't begrudge players from trying to get what they think they are worth and aiming to capitalize on their maximum earnings potential.

There are some team success stories that have resulted from premier players accepting deals at what most would concur would be below an unbiased valuation.

What free agents or draft picks should we go after on defense?

— Graham Van Wyk

I mentioned the players that external experts have mocked to the Vikings via the 11th overall pick, but I'll remind that those are external opinions.

A primary part of this answer may be directly affected by what happens with Danielle Hunter, who is set to become a free agent. I'd imagine Hunter's status will come up in each session for Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell. (Obviously whatever happens with Cousins could impact decisions, too.)

Rather than me suggesting particular players, I'll note the Vikings yielded better results on defense in 2023 than 2022, but I think most, including Flores, would say there's still room for improvements going forward.

Boosting and balancing the ability to affect quarterbacks in the backfield, along with being able to challenge more passes at catch points will always be important for overall success.

View the best photos of Vikings arrivals from the 2023 season.

When are we going to move on from Kirk. Why do we keep trying to hold on to someone that is no good for us? Danielle Hunter and Justin Jefferson are the most important people we need to be worried about.

— Demarous Davis

Conversations about any pending free agents include considering how difficult it would be for a team to replace that player either through free agency or the draft.

Cousins and Hunter have been consistently productive in their roles — same for Jefferson, who will be in the team's fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

There's been no expression from Vikings leadership that Cousins is "no good for us," but anyone who has read a Mailbag or scrolled social media knows that fans spend quite a bit of time offering their opinions (favorable or unfavorable) toward the QB.

View the best of the travel photos of the Vikings from the 2023 season.

How's the Vikings recent batting average been on selecting players in the draft? With nine picks for April, what are the chances of the Vikings hitting on all nine? Or what's a more realistic number the Vikings will get correct?

— Ed Helinski in Auburn, New York

Assigning a batting average can have a few qualifiers that go with it (should a first-round pick be an immediate starter? What about later picks that are utilized with taking a player the team has interest in developing (like a backup quarterback) or filling rotational depth/finding special teams contributors.

Minnesota only had six picks last season, but the 2023 rookie class was supplemented by the signings of undrafted rookies Ivan Pace, Jr., NaJee Thompson and Andre Carter II. Pace showed he probably should have been drafted with his quick contributions on defense and special teams. Thopson also made multiple plays as a gunner on special teams. Will he ever be a rotational player at corner? Carter was viewed as more of a developmental player at edge defender. Can he take a big sophomore step?

Jordan Addison's 70 catches, 911 yards and 10 touchdowns was a hit with the 23rd overall pick of 2023, but Lewis Cine (compounded by his leg injury in 2022) has had a quiet start to his career.

The selection of Christian Darrisaw at 23rd overall in 2021 worked out, but the next three picks of that draft (Kellen Mond at 66, Chazz Surratt at 78 and Wyatt Davis at 86) have all moved on already.

Could some of those picks been packaged to move up and get a second-rounder who might still be with Minnesota? Possibly.

Entering a draft with nine selections provides more bites at the apple if the Vikings play it straight, or it provides Adofo-Mensah with more resources to navigate the board.

An aspect of the Chiefs success that probably doesn't get as much credit as it should is the hit rate that Kansas City has had on its picks. Since 2021, Kansas City has made 23 selections, and 17 of those players were on the 53-man roster for Super Bowl LVIII. Two others were on the practice squad, and two more were on Injured Reserve. I haven't run the numbers on other team's batting averages, but it seems like the Chiefs have hit for average and power.

Minnesota has made 27 selections in that time frame, and nine players have moved on either by being cut or traded. Several others have not had as many at-bats as some of the Chiefs picks, either because of injury, their developmental curves or depth ahead of them on the roster.


Black History Month: Celebrating the Arts

I have been a fan of the Vikings since day 1. I am now 75 years old and have seen a lot of Vikings highs and lows. My question/comments focus on future team development under salary cap restrictions. All the talk now of course is on the pending high-cost Viking free agents (Cousins and Hunter) as well as Jefferson's contract. Here we have three players with salaries that could exceed $100 million or 40 percent of the projected 2024 salary cap. Of course, the Vikings can use the tricks of the trade to spread this around, but in the end the full amount will need to be paid.

Players today are concerned about "my stats and my money" with few considering the long-term future and success of the team. How can the Vikings expect to build a championship team with so much capital going to three players? That problem is left to Kwesi and Kevin to resolve – how to get impact players via the draft and/or free agency. It's too early, but so far decisions made have yielded acceptable positive results either via draft or free agency.

History has proven many times that a team having a few marquee players and an average offensive and defensive line does not yield a championship. On the other hand, it has proven that teams with a superior offensive and defensive line and average skill position players have more success. A superior offensive line will open the holes to make a good running back look great and will protect a good quarterback long enough to find good receivers. Same on defense where a superior defensive front will close the running lanes for a great running back and take away the time a great quarterback needs to find his great receiver. The time a quarterback has to make the throw determines everything on both sides of the ball.

Vikings management has a lot of very difficult decisions to make this offseason – long term vs. short term. Recent articles have indicated that Jefferson wants to know who is under center (Cousins preferred) before he will sign – if this is true, we have a player driving the future of the team. A future back to 2022 when we were 1 and done.

— Bill (always a supporter) in Forney, Texas

It does seem like the Vikings leadership isn't short on big-time decisions to make this offseason.

Trying to combine elite difference makers (and afford them at positions critical to the modern NFL) while finding a way to build the strongest roster and remain within the rules of the salary cap is critical.

Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell value feedback from players, but they also carry the burden of responsibility for decisions and outcomes.