Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Minnesota Vikings [Print without images]

Monday, May 19, 2014
Vikings mailbag part 2: Teddy, WRs, UDFAs

By Ben Goessling

Thanks to all of you who submitted questions for our weekly Minnesota Vikings mailbag. You can send them to me on Twitter any time during the week at @GoesslingESPN, using the hashtag #VikingsMail. There were plenty of good questions after the draft this week. We covered the first handful of them on Saturday, and we'll look at another set of them this morning.

@GoesslingESPN If Teddy doesn't start week one, does he ever start this year? Or, should he? #VikingsMail

— Austin (@Austin_H2O) May 16, 2014
@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone. We'll get started here for the day, with a topic that's getting plenty of attention after coach Mike Zimmer said on Friday that Teddy Bridgewater will get some first-team reps before the season. To be clear, the fact that Bridgewater will get some first-team snaps doesn't mean he's in line to be the opening day starter, nor does it mean he should be. There's no reason to rush him along, with Matt Cassel signed for two years and having offered a few snapshots of his ability to lead the Vikings' offense. To me, the only way Bridgewater should start in Week 1 is if he's so much better than Cassel before the season that it's a clear choice. If anything, the Vikings' trade back into the first round to select Bridgewater should engender more patience, not less; the Vikings now have a fifth-year option on his contract that they wouldn't have had if he'd still been there for them in the second round. I also wouldn't rule out Bridgewater starting later in the year if he doesn't start Week 1, especially if the Vikings get off to a poor start against their tough opening schedule. Essentially, I'd do this: If Bridgewater is good enough to beat out Cassel for the job, give it to him. If he's not, don't force him onto the field just to get his feet wet and showcase the future to the fans. There will be plenty of time for that, and the great benefit of the Vikings re-signing Cassel is the flexibility it bought them. They should use it wisely.

@GoesslingESPN You think it is a competition between Sanford and Exum for S or will they both be on the field with H.S. often #VikingsMail

— Dane Anderson (@Voltron4547) May 15, 2014
@GoesslingESPN: I wouldn't say the safety competition is exclusively between Jamarca Sanford and Antone Exum; there are plenty of other players, like Andrew Sendejo, Kurt Coleman, Robert Blanton and Mistral Raymond, who will be fighting for playing time at safety. The thing I think the Vikings like about Exum is that he should theoretically have good cover skills as a safety, having played cornerback in college. General manager Rick Spielman has talked about the new coaching staff's desire to have safeties who can cover receivers, and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray has held up Seattle's safeties (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor) as a model of the versatility that safeties who can cover receivers buy for their teams. That said, I can't see the Vikings having three safeties on the field unless one of them is good enough to moonlight as a cover corner. Exum might be able to do that, and Blanton played slot cornerback some last season, but the Vikings doing that would likely mean something went wrong with their group of cornerbacks.

Simpson has either been injured, suspended, or disappeared in games. Is there a next guy stepping up behind the usual top 3? #VikingsMail

— peter jenkins (@peterjenkins18) May 15, 2014
@GoesslingESPN: The possibility of NFL discipline for wide receiver Jerome Simpson is one reason why I thought the Vikings might take a receiver in the middle rounds of the draft. The fact that they didn't means that they'll have to hope the league doesn't come down on Simpson for his drunken-driving arrest last November, or that someone else on their roster can emerge. Jarius Wright has shown flashes of being a contributor as a slot receiver, and he might be less at risk of getting lost in Norv Turner's offense than he did at times in Bill Musgrave's, but the Vikings could really use another receiver that can line up outside and allow Greg Jennings to work in the slot, where he saw much of his success in Green Bay. I wouldn't discount Adam Thielen, who spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad and offers some of the size they need at 6-foot-3. Even if Simpson isn't disciplined, the Vikings could benefit from another receiver emerging, since Jennings will be 31 in September and Cordarrelle Patterson, for all his talent, is still only three years removed from junior college.

@GoesslingESPN Which UDFA's have the best chance of making an impact on the team? #VikingsMail

— Hunter Phillips (@hphil48) May 16, 2014
@GoesslingESPN: We'll close here for the week, since this question will be a natural follow-up from the previous one. That's because Erik Lora, who was Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target at Eastern Illinois, could have a chance to fight for a roster spot at slot receiver. Antonio Richardson, the Tennessee tackle who went undrafted after being projected to go on the second day of the draft, could be a nice pickup if the Vikings can figure out how to manage his health (there were concerns before draft that Richardson would only play several years because of arthritic knees). Tight end AC Leonard is intriguing because of his speed (a 4.5 40) and the fact he can play a number of different spots, but he'd have to learn to play in-line and handle blockers effective (he's just 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds). All three have potential, and some significant question marks, but it's becoming more common for teams to find solid contributors in the ranks of undrafted free agents. The Vikings will have to hope they've got a couple this year.