Draft Day Mailbag: Who the Vikings Are Targeting, Rounds 2-3

Draft day is here! As NFL teams make their final preparations, we are going to answer a few final questions about what could happen during this year’s draft. Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

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I’ve been scouring the mock drafts in the hopes of identifying a sleeper pick. I didn’t really find one but I think I identified a great value pick for coach Zimmer. Dexter Lawrence, the Clemson nose tackle. If he’s still there and the offensive linemen the Vikings are targeting are gone, I’d have no problem with them picking Lawrence at No. 18. then going offensive lineman in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Thoughts?

- Gary

This is a sensible opinion and illustrates the philosophy I favor, which is taking the best player available regardless of position. It doesn’t matter how significant the need is at a position…I would not surpass a better player for a player who plays a position of need. Did the Vikings need Randy Moss in 1998? No. They had Cris Carter and Jake Reed. But aren’t we glad the Vikings took the receiver anyway?

If the draft loaded with offensive linemen, why not trade down to get more picks so we can draft more needs?

- William Warren

Tallahassee, FL

That’s a very good idea and it’s one I’m sure GM Rick Spielman and the Vikings have discussed several times and will consider several times during the draft. If you’re board is stacked with, let’s say, five players with a similar grade and you’re on the clock, then you know you can trade down at least four spots and still be assured you’ll get a player you want. But always remember, it takes two to tango. You need to have a trade partner…someone willing to part with draft capital to move up. That’s where it gets tricky to consummate trades. If you want to burn some time before the draft, take a look at each team’s total number of draft selections. Those teams with a surplus of picks (at least seven) are the teams in best position to consider moving up. Those teams with a deficit of picks are the teams who are more apt to consider trading back.

If we go offensive line in the 1st round, I think we should go with Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard. How would you feel if the Vikings took him at No. 18?

- Zakary Peterson

Johnson City, TN

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah told us on Wednesday that he thinks the offensive tackles in this class will go quickly, and Dillard, a four-year starter at left tackle who was first-team all-conference as a senior, is widely considered one of the best prospects in that position group. Not one of the mock drafts on NFL.com has Dillard still on the board for the Vikings at No. 18. Suffice it to say, a lot of people will be surprised if Dillard lasts long enough for the Vikings to grab him, but you never know!

I may be a little biased here, but I feel the Vikings would get a lot of value out of Michael Deiter in the 2nd round if they can get him. Wisconsin linemen definitely have some proven capabilities in the NFL and from watching him all year I thought he’d be 1st-round talent.

- Chance Pagel

Madison, WI

Deiter has starts at left tackle, left guard and center under his belt at Wisconsin and he’s a two-time All-Big 10 first-teamer and was a second-team All-American as a senior. I obviously don’t know how the Vikings feel about Deiter in particular, but he’s an example of the depth of this class of offensive linemen. I know many fans will be restless if the Vikings don’t take an offensive lineman in the 1st round, but the depth of this class of linemen is good enough that the middle rounds will produce quality NFL players. Also remember, two of the Vikings best offensive linemen right now were not drafted in the 1st round – Pat Elflein was a 3rd-rounder two years ago and Brian O’Neill was a 2nd-rounder last year.

Cynthia Frelund has a two-round mock draft that purports to be for maximizing 2019 win probability. For the Vikings, her model would take a defensive tackle and a cornerback. Do you agree those positions would help the Vikings 2019 win probability more than addressing the offensive line?

- John A.

Burnsville, MN

Drafting the best players possible is what increases win probability, not blindly drafting for need. If you’re on the clock and you have a cornerback with a high grade and an offensive lineman with a medium grade, and you take the offensive lineman over the cornerback, have you increased your win probability more than if you would’ve taken the better player? I would suggest you haven’t. In my view, it would’ve been wiser to take the higher-graded player. Who knows…you may have still gotten that offensive lineman with the medium grade with your next pick. Take the best player available, period.

Fans can look at stats and Combine numbers and read about prospect strengths and weaknesses. Something which we may not be able to accurately assess or get quality scouting information on is a player's coachability. The term seems self-explanatory but I'm thinking there may be elements that those without NFL experience or an elite football mind neglect. What would you consider essential elements of a prospect's coachability at the NFL level?

- Jeff Kilty

Sacramento, CA

A players skill set and tape are paramount, no question. But Jeff is correct in that there’s more to the evaluation process than physical ability. Teams try and learn as much about the prospects as they can, which includes analyzing the probability that its coaching staff can help a player realize his potential. A player’s ability to learn and process information, his competitive integrity and love for the game, his versatility and his level of selflessness are all important factors for teams to consider and evaluate. This is why teams invest so much in their scouting process, from hitting the road to see these players at their colleges to the use of psychological testing. The smart teams leave no stones unturned in this process.

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