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Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings Outlook After 2021 NFL Season Wraps

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, which is presented by FedEx. Remember to include your name and town on the email. The questions below have been edited for clarity.

You can also send Eric a Mailbag question via Twitter.

It's been a while since I've emailed, but the Super Bowl this week just has me thinking. I'm excited about the Vikings potential moving forward; but with new leadership taking over, how many pieces need to be added to make this a contending team? SKOL!

— Ashley from Anoka

A great question to start us off after Super Bowl LVI is in the books.

Ashley is correct that the Vikings have new leadership taking over, and one of those key pieces — General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah — has already been in the building for a few weeks.

As for the next Vikings Head Coach, which many of you emailed me asking about, my answer on that is the same as last week: while the Vikings have not officially made any announcements as of publication time on who that head coach will be, more than one of the multiple candidates who interviewed in-person cannot officially be named to the position if they happened to coach in yesterday's game.

Onto Ashley's question, I won't give a specific number of pieces. I believe it's tough to quantify something and just say "The Vikings are just four pieces away!" and believe that is the magic fix.

To put it another way, I'd guess Minnesota's chances of making Super Bowl LVII (in a year) somewhere around the middle of the pack.

There are certainly numerous Vikings players already in place that are seen as key building blocks for the future.

Justin Jefferson would be at the top of that list, followed by Brian O'Neill, Christian Darrisaw, Dalvin Cook, Irv Smith, Jr., and Adam Thielen on offense.

The defense is a little less defined, but Eric Kendricks is still a dynamic player, along with Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith.

The intriguing part, at least for me, is how the Vikings roster takes shape in the next three months, and in the next two to three years.

It's inevitable that roster turnover will occur, and Minnesota certainly has a handful of free agents to worry about in roughly a month.

Adofo-Mensah and his staff also have crucial decisions to make in both the short and long-term, most notable at quarterback (where Kirk Cousins is entering the final season of his deal) and at cornerback (a group that might go undergo serious reconstruction for the third straight offseason).

I don't think the Vikings are currently a team that is a long way away from making a deep playoff run, but that could have been said about the Bengals last year.

And if Adofo-Mensah can push the right buttons and make the right moves in the first year or two on the job, that timeline might even be more expedited than we think.

How many picks do the Vikings have in the draft this season?

— Jon Froemming

Minnesota currently has eight overall picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, beginning with the 12th overall pick in the first round.

It's worth noting that if the Vikings are awarded any compensatory picks, they will be announced at a later date.

So for now, the total is at eight, and here's a quick round-by-round breakdown:

Round 1: one selection

Round 2: one selection

Round 3: one selection

Round 4: no selections

Round 5: one selection

Round 6: three selections

Round 7: one selection

Remember that the Vikings traded their 2022 fourth-round pick to the Jets for tight end Chris Herndon, and received a sixth-round pick from New York in the September deal.

And the Vikings received a sixth-round pick from the Chiefs in a May 2021 trade that sent cornerback Mike Hughes to Kansas City. Minnesota also traded its own seventh-round pick to Kansas City in the deal.

With the draft still 10 weeks away, what intrigues me is how many picks the Vikings will end up when all is said and done.

This is our first look at how Adofo-Mensah will operate a draft. Minnesota's previous regime was notorious for stockpiling picks, selecting no fewer than 11 players in each of the past three drafts.

All eyes will be on Adofo-Mensah to see if he acquires (or trades away) any picks before we even get to the draft, and then what he does with that draft capital come late April.

As for positions of need for Minnesota, our Vikings 2022 Mock Draft Tracker has been up and running for almost a month now. And Version 3.0 is coming out tomorrow, so be prepared for that.

Early on, quarterback, cornerback, edge rusher and linebacker have been favorite positions to predict to the Vikings with the 12th overall pick.

I saw the Purple People Eaters play in the fall of 1970 at Old Met Stadium. I was stationed at Fort Snelling across Interstate 494. I want the Vikings offensive line of 2022 to be, and play like, the Purple People Eaters that I saw play in 1970. Then we will have a winning team and go to the Super Bowl.

— Robert Primeaux

Robert is aiming high for the Vikings offensive line.

But let's take it down a notch when trying to compare different position units, and not just because they are on different sides of the ball.

There's a strong case to be made that the Purple People Eaters are the best position group in Vikings history. Yes, even better than the late '90s wide receiver group.

That group featured a pair of Hall of Famers in Alan Page and Carl Eller, plus a third member who many believe is deserving of his own spot in Canton, Ohio, in Jim Marshall. And Gary Larsen was a two-time Pro Bowler himself.

The 2022 Vikings offensive line will be led by O'Neill, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl. Darrisaw will hopefully develop into the franchise's cornerstone left tackle, and Ezra Cleveland showed solid progression in his second season as an NFL guard after playing tackle in college.

The questions lie on the interior, where former first-rounder Garrett Bradbury is already heading into his fourth year and has had a bumpy career thus far. Mason Cole is scheduled to be a free agent. And Olisaemeka Udoh, despite starting 16 games in 2021, likely isn't viewed as a surefire starter again in 2022.

Some pieces are in place up front for the Vikings, and it's a welcome sight that offensive line is not a position of need in the first round of mock drafts this year.

But I don't think you can hope that any position group plays like the Purple People Eaters. They are in a class of their own, and rightfully so.

And finally, speaking of the Purple People Eaters, a shoutout to my colleague, Lindsey Young, for this great story on the 50-year anniversary of Page becoming the first defensive player in NFL history to win the MVP award.

Please look at training a couple of the backup linemen as fullbacks on goal-line plays. They are used to hitting and blocking.

— Michael Dawkins

A nice idea, but the last time I checked C.J. Ham is still on the roster.

He's good enough to be in the mix every year for the Pro Bowl, and likely would be if not for San Francisco's Kyle Juszczyk.

Ham is among the best in the league at his position, and his ability to open holes near the goal line is a big reason for that. Cook has 35 rushing touchdowns in his past three seasons, 20 of which have come from the 4-yard line or closer.

If you're looking for a backup lineman to make an impact, it's arguable that Blake Brandel did so in 2021.

The former sixth-round tackle was the focus of this story, and chipped in as an extra lineman — even running a few routes as a tight end.