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Monday Morning Mailbag: Rule Change Recap & First-Round Scenarios

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Last week's Annual League Meeting included the major overhaul by NFL Owners of what kickoffs will look like in 2024, as well as media sessions with Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

Wilf, Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell addressed multiple offseason talkers, providing assessments of the offseason so far and offering a couple of details for how the team is approaching this month's — yep, THIS MONTH'S — NFL Draft. I think we're all looking forward to that event, which will be hosted by Detroit this year and Green Bay next year. Wilf mentioned the Vikings hope to help bring an NFL Draft to Minnesota.

"It's been going around the NFC North, and why not Minnesota? We've proven we can do big events in an incredibly special way. Our facilities, and more importantly, the community steps out in a way that's special," Wilf said. "I think we've put a lot of effort into the draft, and we'd love to have a draft here in the not-too-distant future. [The NFL is] well-aware of that interest, and there's a process. We're working with the community to try to see if we can get toward that window."

It was such a treat to see the way Minnesota hosted Super Bowl LII, and I'm quite confident the community would do a tremendous job if awarded a draft bid.

I also have great intrigue in seeing how the kickoff rule, which is going into effect for a one-year trial basis, impacts games. Coaches also will be able to have a third challenge in games if at least one of their first two is successful (previous rules required a coach to be successful on both challenges to receive a third within a game).

Most of the mock drafts have the Vikings trading up with picks 11 and 23. Many of them have the Vikings adding even more to the pot, including next year's first. Your analysis of QBs taken in the first round (or first 3 taken) shows very clearly that the selection of QB is really a toss-up. It's that way for every position, but maybe more so for QBs.

I think, like in 1983, six QBs go in Round 1. In 1983, [John] Elway, [Jim] Kelly, and [Dan] Marino became superstars. [Todd] Blackledge, [Tony] Eason, and [Ken] O'Brien — not so much. I really think time will yield the same for this year's six. Who fits in which category???? With that in mind, I think it's better to use one pick per choice, rather than bundle two or three firsts into one choice. I'd stick at 11 and 23. If one of the top four QBs drop to 11, then take him. If they don't value [Bo] Nix or [Michael Penix, Jr.] that highly, then likely the first CB off the board is there. At 23, Nix or Penix would be a value pick, but if they aren't there, then the No. 2 DT would be, or the No. 2 or No. 3 IOL.

In the fourth round or later, they could take one from the next tier. [Spencer] Rattler will be gone, but [Jordan] Travis and [Michael] Pratt will be there. Maybe they work out, maybe they don't. But the last time the Vikings were a game away from the Super Bowl, Case Keenum was the QB. Cousins is a much better QB than Keenum, but the Vikings only made the playoffs twice in his six years. It really is a team sport, and you really need a complete team with plenty of reserves, not just an excellent QB.

— David Sinclair in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (patiently waiting since Super Bowl I. Please once before I die.)


Hope, as in free agency and the draft. This 50-plus-season-forever Vikings fan sure HOPES the brain trust does not trade away any draft selections to move up in the first round. Just my impressions. QBs seem to be one of the most difficult positions to predict success in the NFL. Guessing if the 11th selection is a QB, the long-term difference in the first, second or third choice will depend on the coaching staff to develop the person and design an offensive system around that choice. (Just my humble opinion), to give away the current two selections in the first round just to move up and hope you made the correct choice vs. option two or three is too much of a "calculated gamble." Thinking, hope that Sam Darnold may have found a coaching staff that will maximize his potential. We need to give the man and the coaches an opportunity before we dump on them. The season HOPE. Top 5 defense. Top 5 running offense. Solid passing offense. Hang on to the football.


— Noel in Bayfield, Wisconsin


I would be highly disappointed to trade three [first-round picks] for a QB. One of our executives said a lot of offensive players will go off the board early leaving a very good defensive player available at 11. I feel we will keep both picks and make our team better overall. A franchise QB cannot do anything if the franchise around him is not good.

— Gerald Goblirsch

It's a little rare to group three questions out of the gate, but I thought these were a nice blend to go with your morning coffee.

When I've been putting together the Mock Draft Tracker versions, I've kind of chuckled at the willingness of prognosticators to deal away Vikings draft picks and the different offers they suggest as what will be required to vault up to a particular spot. Some think the current two first-round selections this year will do the trick, but others have added even more, almost as if playing with Monopoly money instead of the valued currency that draft picks represent.

A trade up might be the route the Vikings choose, and if so, I guarantee they've weighed detail in considering that approach and concluded the value obtained will be worth the value dealt.

In case you missed last week’s Mailbag, I briefly summarized first-round picks (or first three quarterbacks selected) in each of the past 10 drafts.

The projections for so many quarterbacks — (listing alphabetically by last name) Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, Michael Penix, Jr., Caleb Williams all have been projected as first-round selections — to potentially be drafted in a first round is quite rare, and I love David's reference to the 1983 NFL Draft, which was chronicled so well in the Elway to Marino 30 for 30 documentary by ESPN in 2013.

Elway, Kelly and Marino accounted for three of the seven Hall of Famers who were selected in the first round (28 selections at the time).

The addition of Darnold provided Minnesota with a quarterback whose college traits and pro projections made him the No. 3 overall pick of 2018. It was done before Minnesota added the 23rd overall pick by sending a second this year as part of that deal to Houston.

That deal boosted Minnesota's flexibility to either make another big move before or on draft day; stay put with both spots and boost the roster; or nudge up or down from either or both picks, depending how the board falls.

Which QB should the Vikings take? Preferably, if possible J.J. McCarthy at 11 and use 23 on defense. If not, trade up for Jayden Daniels or J.J. McCarthy. Either one should be great in Vikings offense.

— Kevin Harris in Christiansburg, Virginia

I'll leave the evaluations of quarterbacks (and other positions) to people with more expertise than me, and I'll focus my efforts on trying to help connect the draft picks with this awesome fan base by relaying their stories.

Most think Daniels will be off the board by pick No. 11. Some think McCarthy will last that long, although he's picked up plenty of steam since the Wolverines claimed the CFP National Title.

His former Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, who coincidentally already has a franchise QB on his Chargers roster, as well as the No. 5 overall pick, has been championing McCarthy's stock at every turn.

A head coach should be able to have a penalty reversal — two per half.

— Michael H.

I'm not exactly sure if there's a specific type of penalty that is being referenced here, but I do think it's a positive that coaches will now have an opportunity to have a third challenge by getting just one of the first two within a game correct.

Beyond the kickoff rule, this change has the potential to impact multiple games every week.

Still wondering when you are going to address the back end of the defense. We got killed in the end of games because of it last year and need some veterans back there.

— Tre P.

The Vikings have all six safeties they rostered in 2023 under contract for 2024 and have added Shaq Griffin to their cornerbacks room.

O'Connell mentioned last week that adding Griffin, who has 79 starts under his belt, will enable Byron Murphy, Jr., to play more of an inside defensive back role (nickel).

The Vikings obviously directed considerable attention to multiple levels of their defense.

I wonder where Sam Darnold is compared to Kirk Cousins' progression at the same point in his career? I would think Kirk was maybe slightly ahead, but considering the level of talent in Washington at the time, is he really that far ahead or was showing that much more potential than Darnold? Seems like Kirk improved a lot over his career and especially during his time in MN with decision making, ability to affect the game at the line before the play, and willingness/ability to make tough throws. I am not implying Darnold will be able to make the same progress but seems like the potential and talent is there.

— Josh in South Dakota

Darnold has started 56 of the 66 games he's played, passing for 12,064 yards with 63 touchdowns against 56 interceptions. His completion percentage is 59.7, and his passer rating is 78.3.

Cousins started 57 of the 62 games he played in his first six pro seasons (all with Washington), passing for 16,206 yards with 99 touchdowns against 55 interceptions. His completion percentage was 65.5 percent, and his passer rating was 93.7 during that time.

So the traditional stats were in Cousins' favor, but subtexts can often accompany stats.

I try to approach every addition to the roster with an optimistic neutrality that's aware of what players have done elsewhere in the NFL or in college on their way to the draft but also lets them start from scratch when they become Vikings.

Vikings fan since 1972. Suffered through three Super Bowls — as the first one, I was a little young. Fran Tarkenton was the best quarterback of the '70s in my opinion, but if you don't win the big one you don't get remembered too much. I think we are headed in the right direction. You always need luck — something the Vikings have not had since I've been a fan, so all I gotta say is keep your fingers crossed. Whoever we get, whether it's 11, three or four, we need the luck. The curse must be broken.

— Rick Tafoya in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tarkenton's place in the franchise, with direct and indirect impact, is singular. He was an original Viking who came off the bench in the franchise's Inaugural Game to stun the Bears. Former Minnesota General Manager Jim Finks (in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Tarkenton) executed a trade with the Giants for first- (1967 and 1968) and second-round (1967 and 1968) picks that were used on RB Clinton Jones, WR Bob Grim, T Ron Yary and G Ed White, respectively.

After five seasons in New York, Tarkenton headed back to Minnesota in a deal for QB Norm Snead, Grim, RB Vince Clements, a 1972 first-round pick and a 1973 second-round pick.

His career — he led the NFL in so many major categories when he retired — cast a long shadow that the Vikings have tried to replicate in terms of success and continuity.

What's going on in "TACKLE" football? How, please tell me, I really want to know, you have a 220-pound running back coming at you full speed, how do you tackle him? Granted I only played in high school before joining the Marine Corps and then played football in the Marine Corps. We took players down, give no inch! PUT FLAGS ON THEM? SMH (shaking my head).

— Rick O. in Stillwater, Oklahoma

Rick's email references the unanimous vote by NFL Owners to eliminate the hip-drop tackle, which was viewed as a way that a smaller defender could help bring down a larger offensive player with momentum.

Appreciate your service in the Marine Corps, and I'm glad you were able to play football during that time. I'd imagine it's pretty fierce action.

There's a much better and comprehensive assessment of that decision by someone much more qualified than me to weigh in on it.

I think this could be a possibility for the Vikings and want your thoughts.

Since the Vikings are looking to move up for QB. Something I've yet to hear about which seems at least an obvious option. Here you go!

Since the Chargers and Harbaugh have the No. 5 pick, Harbaugh loves and coached McCarthy. And the fact that the Chargers dumped their WRs, RB and TE, this would be the perfect opportunity for them to trade [Justin] Herbert to the Vikings for No. 11 and No. 23 and 2025 first-rounder. Then, the Chargers draft McCarthy and reset their QB pricing.

The Vikings, with the moves, can win now with Herbert; the Chargers aren't winning now, they are rebuilding.

I say the Vikings pursue trade talks with the Chargers. It makes sense for both teams. The only downside for the Vikings is Herbert's contract that they can restructure. For the Chargers, why pay Herbert big money now when you have no one else on offense?

I think it could be an option unless the Vikings think McCarthy is better than Herbert. I think it's worth pursuing; then, 2024 could be a Super Bowl run.

— Kevin Flynn

I mentioned Harbaugh's frequent flowery comments regarding McCarthy, and although I don't know Harbaugh, I believe they can be two-fold. One motivator is continuing the relationship with the player and showing support for him; the other is piquing interest and trying to maximize offers the Chargers might receive for the fifth pick.

Herbert is under contract through 2029, and his cap hit is about to increase dramatically over the next few years. It seems the Chargers made some of their other moves with managing Herbert's contract and building around his talent in mind.

When thinking about moving up to No. 3 or No. 4 and giving up three No. 1 draft choices for a quarterback, how do you balance that against keeping your draft choices, picking a top-5 defensive player, a No. 5-6 "ranked quarterback (Penix?), and keeping a No. 1 for 2025? We built a four-time Super Bowl team with the second option.

Fan since '61.

— Rocco W.


The theory is that the Vikes could probably get No. 4 from Arizona with this year's two first rounders only. Trading up any higher could cost those two, plus next year's first round pick. Since it seems that one of the two QBs targeted should be there at No. 4, why would we part with next year's first round pick?

— Phil Zupetz, in Monroe, North Carolina

There's been so many projections, and some seem more favorable to the Vikings than others.

If there's a huge swell for quarterbacks in the top 10 picks, and Minnesota chooses not to move up or is unable to negotiate a deal it agrees with as fair, then that will only increase the pool of players available on defense or at other positions.

If the Vikings want to move up, then predicting the top of the board will be important in figuring out how competitive other teams may try to be with their offers to vault up the board.

View photos of the Vikings 2024 coaching staff.

I've been a Vikings fan for 55 years. Seen what I thought were some pretty good teams that had everything in place to make a Super Bowl run. Seems like [Bud] Grant was the only person that was good enough to pull everyone together and get there.

What is it going to take to get back to those glory days? I know it's more of a business nowadays, and back then it was more of a true game. Is it coaching, ownership, players or a combination of all of it that makes it so we just can't get back to the Super Bowl? What's it gonna take for the Vikings to get it done? Just once before I die!

Forever a Vikings fan, I bleed purple, and I'll cheer until my last breath! SKOL! Vikes!

— Jeff Wiebold

The report cards from the NFL Players Association have rated the Vikings No. 1 and 2, respectively, in their first two years of existence, with Ownership and coaching receiving high marks.

The Wilf family is entering its 20th season as stewards of the franchise, and they have been consistent in supporting the organization in its quest for its first Super Bowl victory.

Minnesota has come close multiple times, including a pair of appearances in the NFC Championship during that time.

The Vikings will be in their third season with Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell at the helm. The 2022 team won 13 games but didn't advance in the playoffs. The 2023 team could have returned, but injuries mounted on the way to the disappointing finish.

The roster continues to be reshaped, but the goal has not changed.

WHY are the Vikings dragging their feet in signing J.J. (Justin Jefferson)?? Seems to us that he has been more than patient in waiting for a deal. He wants to remain with the Vikings. He wants to continue to be a team leader both on the field and in the locker room, so why the delay in giving him the long-term contract he wants? After all, he is THE BEST receiver in all of football, and the longer he remains unsigned the more he begins to feel unwanted and will be willing to listen to other offers, which by the way now seem to be increasing in number. Latest rumor today is the Rams are very interested.

VIKING BRASS: please do the right thing and get this very valuable player under contract ASAP. Otherwise, we fear we will lose him!

— Jerry & Bev Haremza in Le Sueur, Minnesota

We led our takeaways story last week with an update on Jefferson and how O'Connell has kept in communication with the star receiver this offseason.

I understand how popular Jefferson is, and I also understand that some fans were with the team when Randy Moss was traded in March 2005, but Jefferson is under contract through this year (and the Vikings could deploy a franchise tag beyond it). While he is under contract, teams should not be making overtures because of the NFL's anti-tampering policy.

Adofo-Mensah said the negotiations were quite close to becoming finalized in 2023, but the fact there were two years remaining prompted further negotiations. When he and O'Connell say they have good dialogue with Jefferson, I take them at their word and don't really worry about things.

While I hate to see us lose anyone, I am loving this enthusiasm of our new players!

You can see the pride in their faces and hear it in their voices — the pride of being a Minnesota Viking!

We're already ready for some football! SKOL!!!!

— Barbara Jean Maggert (now in St Augustine, Florida — displaced from the great city of Minneapolis, but with my Vikings love and memories, going all the way back to Metropolitan Stadium and Bud Grant! Dear Bud, always and forever.)

Appreciate these thoughts to close us out. Bud was truly special and continues to be beloved.

It was really cool to see John Randle in the Minnesota Vikings Museum, as well as Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen hopping on video chats, to welcome free agent newcomers. They are continuing a Purple Thread that Bud used to talk about, uniting generations of Vikings the way that our fans for decades have helped connect newer fans.