Vikings Pre-Draft Mailbag Part 1: Trading Down, Trevon Diggs, Offensive Line and More

Will Ragatz

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, I wanted to take some time to answer your Vikings questions, whether draft-focused or otherwise. This is my first time doing an InsideTheVikings mailbag, so thank you to everyone who submitted questions on Twitter. This is Part 1, so if you don't see your question answered, it'll be there in Part 2, which will come out on Monday. I'd like to do more mailbags going forward, so make sure to follow me @WillRagatz to see when I ask for questions. Let's get to it!

Would you rather have Josh Jones at #22 or trade Riley Reiff and pick #89 for Trent Williams?

- Michael Gunville (@Gunny_1921)

Assuming he's healthy and ready to go, the answer is Williams and it's not particularly close. I like Jones a lot as a first-round option for the Vikings; he's a good scheme fit because of his athleticism and he flashed a lot of upside both on his college tape at Houston and at the Senior Bowl. But with that said, Jones still needs a good amount of coaching and improvement before he'll be a starting-caliber NFL left tackle.

Williams, meanwhile, is one of the best left tackles in the league and has been for almost a decade. He's obviously an elite pass protector, but people forget that Williams was a ridiculous, Tristan Wirfs-type athlete coming out of Oklahoma in 2010. He has lost a step since then, but Williams would still be a dominant force in the Vikings' running game in addition to holding down Kirk Cousins' blind side.

There's some risk that comes with trading for an expensive 32-year-old tackle who sat out all of last season, but the reward would be having one of the best LTs in the game for the next three-plus years. Given the Vikings' struggles in finding a consistent player at that position over the past couple decades, it's a risk I'm willing to take. I'd trade Reiff and a third-rounder for Williams in a heartbeat.

Read: The Cases For and Against the Vikings Trading For Trent Williams

Who do you think are the most likely teams to trade up with the Vikings at either 22 or 25?

- Jordan Barrett (@CloudCityFB)

What are your favorite realistic trade-down scenarios for the Vikings?

- Steezo (@steezo999)

I'll answer these together. The question of trading down is a good one that has a solid chance to be relevant on Thursday night. The Vikings will have a certain group of players that they feel are worth taking at 22 or 25, but what happens when one of those picks rolls around and that list is either short or empty? In that scenario, it would make sense for Rick Spielman to look to move down instead of reaching for a prospect. Acquiring an additional Day 2 pick in a trade would give the Vikings an extra chance to dip into one of several position groups that are perceived as very deep through the first three rounds.

Another scenario – one I'm particularly fond of – is that Spielman uses one of the first-rounders to trade up for a top-tier player, and then uses the other first-rounder to trade down and regain some of the draft capital that was lost in the first deal. That's the approach I took in my last seven-round mock draft.

As for the actual question of which teams could make sense as trade partners if the Vikings want to move down, we have to look at teams that need a quarterback. Historically, the No. 1 reason why teams trade up in – or into – the first round is to get a QB. Right away, the Colts jump out. They need a quarterback of the future behind Philip Rivers and don't have a first-round pick. I could easily see them wanting to move up to 22 to get ahead of the Patriots and Saints if Jordan Love is falling. Rivers' old team, the Chargers, could be another option if they don't take Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert at No. 6 overall. If they go with a tackle like Wirfs instead, they might not want to wait until the second round for a QB. The Bears (another team without a first-rounder) and Buccaneers are two more teams who might want to trade up for a QB.

What is the likeliest scenario we're bound to see come Week 1 for the Vikings' offensive line...LT-LG-C-RG-RT?

- Armando Cuesta (@armandocuesta1)

How many new OL starters will there be out of the 5 OL spots? I see RT and C as set, but we could have Reiff moving to LG, Elflein shifting to RG, and a new guy somewhere. What are your thoughts?

- VikesGinger (@VikesGinger)

This is another group of two questions that I'll answer as one since they're pretty similar. When it comes to the Vikings' 2020 offensive line, the only virtual lock is that Garrett Bradbury will be the team's starting center. They just used their first-round pick on him last year, and despite some growing pains in year one, they're still very high on his ceiling. It's also a lock that Brian O'Neill will be manning one of the tackle spots. That will almost certainly be the right side, where he's grown into an above-average player over the past two years, but a move back to his college position of left tackle can't be ruled out depending on who the Vikings add at tackle.

Read: Danielle Hunter Embracing Leadership Role As He Heads into Year Six

That leaves the other tackle position and both guards. With Josh Kline gone, the most obvious options to fill those spots are Reiff at tackle and Elflein, Dru Samia, and Dakota Dozier competing for two starting jobs at guard. But that's before any additions, and the Vikings are almost certainly going to add at least one player to compete for a starting role before next season begins. That could be a tackle or guard through the draft, Trent Williams, or one of the tackles still available in free agency.

To answer VikesGinger's question, I'd estimate there will be two new starters, not counting returning players shifting positions. Whoever replaces Kline at right guard is one, and then I'd imagine there's a new starter at either left guard, left tackle, or right tackle (if O'Neill moves). I don't think the Vikings want to rely on starting Elflein in 2020, so they could add a guard to replace him or move Reiff to guard.

As for Cuesta's question, there are so many possibilities that it's tough to say what the most likely starting five on the o-line is in 2020. But here's a shot at it:

  • Left tackle: Josh Jones
  • Left guard: Riley Reiff
  • Center: Garrett Bradbury
  • Right guard: Dru Samia
  • Right tackle: Brian O'Neill

Do you think Trevon Diggs is still on our board or does the Stefon stuff make that nearly impossible? What’s your opinion on how well Reiff would be able to transition to Guard? If the Vikes think that's not an issue, it absolutely nails home an early OT.

- Jason (@MadCityViking)

Two questions from Jason! And they're both good ones. I'll start by saying that I would be quite surprised if the Vikings drafted Trevon Diggs. I don't have any inside information about that, but I just think there would be a certain level of awkwardness there that would make the relationship between team and player a weird one. The NFL is a business, so it's not impossible – especially if Diggs starts falling and is available at 58 – but I think it's safe to say the Vikings won't be drafting him.

The Reiff question plays well into my guess of the starting offensive line next year. I do think there's a decent chance that he winds up moving to guard as soon as next season; the Vikings have reportedly discussed that as a potential option. The first thing that tends to happen whenever that possibility is brought up is that people mention Mike Remmers, who the Vikings tried to move from tackle to guard with dismal results a few years back. But the idea that no tackle could ever successfully move to guard just because Remmers' move didn't work out is a flawed one. Also, Reiff played some guard back in his college days at Iowa, and he has better hands and movement ability than Remmers did.

Moving from tackle to guard or vice versa on the same side of the line is actually viewed by some as easier than switching sides while keeping the same position. There are legitimate reasons to believe that Reiff could be better at guard than he is at tackle, or at least present an upgrade from Elflein, who allowed far too much pressure on Cousins last season.

Thanks again for the questions! Part 2 of the mailbag is coming on Monday.

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