Now that the NFL Draft seems far behind us and rookie minicamp has come and gone, the Vikings are moving forward with a full roster and looking ahead to the 2016 season. In his weekly Twitter mailbag, ESPN's Ben Goessling fielded a number of questions related to draft picks' roles on the team as rookies.
In answering one fan's question about first-round pick Laquon Treadwell, Goessling said the following:
What Teddy Bridgewater needs is a player he can lean on in tough situations — it's worth noting 62 players in 2015, and 16 rookies the last two seasons, had more targets than Stefon Diggs' 79 last year – and the Vikings hope Treadwell can be that player. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that Treadwell catches 60 to 65 passes for 750 to 800 yards and five or six touchdowns.
Goessling said he was most focusing on the number of times Treadwell gets into the end zone in 2016. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has said he wants to do better in the red zone this season, and Goessling said that Treadwell's size and athleticism make him "a natural fit" for shorter-yardage scoring situations.
Another fan asked about second-round pick Mackensie Alexander and how much he can be expected to play in his debut season. Goessling said the answer will essentially depend on Alexander's performance.
*The Vikings don't need to be in any hurry to put him on the field, with Captain Munnerlyn still signed for another season and coming off a solid year at slot cornerback. But the Vikings took Alexander in the second round because they love his coverage skills, and if those translate quickly at the NFL level, I don't expect they'll hold him back. Remember, Mike Zimmer said he thinks Alexander is big enough to play outside if needed, too; I'm not sure that'd be the Vikings' ideal plan, but they're not ruling it out as an option. *
Kentrell Brothers said Vikings got a bargain
Mel Kiper called linebacker Kentrell Brothers a bargain pick for the Vikings in the fifth round. Brothers couldn't agree more. Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press spoke with Brothers about what he brings to the table* *for Minnesota.
"I think whoever drafted me, it was a steal," Brothers told Tomasson. "A lot of good players went, but I think I bring some things to the table that others don't."
The 6-foot, 245-pounder from Missouri fell in the draft because he doesn't have prototypical size. But what the Vikings saw was a tackling machine who led the nation last season, averaging 12.7 stops per game for the Tigers.
If Brothers turns out to be the player the Vikings think he is, he eventually will work his way into the starting lineup. Minnesota has a pair of long-term pieces in place with outside linebacker Anthony Barr and middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, but the team could make room for Brothers by moving Kendricks to the outside at some point.
Brothers recorded 152 tackles in 2015, notching 10 or more tackles in all but one of Missouri's 12 games. Brothers doesn't see his size as a weakness, and he hopes his production on the field proves that.
"A lot of people see [my size] as a disadvantage, but I seem to have advantages in multiple ways," Brothers told Tomasson. "I'm able to stay low on long linemen, I'm able to hit low on running backs. … I've worked well with it so far, and I think I can continue to do that with the Vikings."
Former Vikings coach joins Alabama coaching staff
The Alabama Crimson Tide announced Thursday they have hired Karl Dunbar as their new defensive line coach.
Dunbar has 11 seasons of NFL coaching on his resume, including six with Minnesota. From 2006-2011, Dunbar served as the Vikings defensive line coach. During Dunbar's time with the team, the Vikings defense ranked in the top 10 for yards allowed for three consecutive seasons (2008-2010). In Dunbar's first three seasons, the Vikings rush defense was No. 1 in the league.
Dunbar also spent time with the Bears, Jets and the Bills. He's not new to the collegiate scene, either. Dunbar coached for Nicholls State University, Oklahoma State University and had two separate stints with Louisiana State University.
"We have known Karl Dunbar for a long time, and he has a lot of experience coaching the defensive line in both the NFL and college," Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban said. "Karl is very familiar with our program from an organizational standpoint as well as the defensive scheme we run. He is a fantastic football coach who brings a wealth of coaching experience while being a great asset in recruiting."