@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone. Hope you're having a great weekend. We'll get started here. The Vikings have indicated they plan to use Captain Munnerlyn as a nickel cornerback in 2015, as opposed to the role he played last year, when he started in the base defense and eventually moved inside. Why? For one, Munnerlyn's size makes him a better fit as a slot cornerback in the Vikings' defense. And for two, the Vikings didn't feel like Munnerlyn always adhered to the techniques they wanted in their defense. Now that they've got a cornerback who fits the physical profile of what they want (in Trae Waynes), and a veteran who's well-schooled in Mike Zimmer's system (in Terence Newman), the Vikings should have enough depth to put Munnerlyn in a more specialized role. Things can always change, but that seems like the plan for now.
@GoesslingESPN: The Vikings have several young players who could get a look there, like Carter Bykowski, Tyrus Thompson, Austin Shepherd and (eventually) Babatunde Aiyegbusi. T.J. Clemmings could also eventually get some work on the left side, though I don't think it's an accident that the Vikings are beginning OTAs with him as the starter at right guard. But the reality in 2015 is that NFL teams rarely have perfect solutions if their starters don't pan out on the offensive line. Most teams carry eight, or maybe nine, linemen, which means the backups are generalists who can play several different spots. If Matt Kalil is bad enough that the Vikings believe they need to bench him, they'll be inserting young players on the fly or scouring the open market for a veteran. Teams just don't have enough offensive line depth on a 53-man roster to cover themselves for every scenario. But Kalil said he feels healthy again, and the Vikings are banking on him being better in 2015.
How many WRs will we keep on the roster? Who won't make it? #VikingsMail— chris (@chrisa833) May 29, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: Last year, the Vikings kept five receivers on their 53-man roster (though Rodney Smith might have been the odd man out had Jerome Simpson not been suspended). Norv Turner's offenses have kept more than that in the past, and there could be an extra spot available if the Vikings only carry two quarterbacks. But if we assume it's five for now, I'd expect Charles Johnson, Mike Wallace, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson and Stefon Diggs to all be on the roster. That means Adam Thielen is going to be in a fight to make the team again after he mostly worked on special teams last season. Thielen played well enough that the Vikings could keep him around, especially if special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer gets to swing one of the final roster spots toward one of his guys. Otherwise, he'll have an uphill battle. It seems hard to believe the Vikings would part with any of the other five wideouts, but stranger things have happened.
@GoesslingESPN: Oh, boy. I could get myself in all sorts of trouble here, couldn't I? As I look at a reasonable comparison for Teddy Bridgewater -- and I'm not making any hyperbolic statements about the Vikings having the same level of team success -- he lands somewhere between Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. Here are the stats for all three players as first-year starters:
- Bridgewater (age 22): 259-for-402 (64.4 percent), 2,919 yards, 14 TDs, 12 INTs, 39 sacks.
- Wilson (age 24): 252-for-393 (64.1 percent), 3,118 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs, 33 sacks.
- Brees (age 23): 320-for-526 (60.8 percent), 3,284 yards, 17 TDs, 16 INTs, 24 sacks.
Obviously, we heard the Vikings say all sorts of things about how Christian Ponder compared favorably to Brees and Eli Manning during their first seasons. None of it matters if Bridgewater doesn't develop, although I think the Vikings have a much better foundation with him running a Norv Turner offense than they did with Ponder running a Bill Musgrave offense. In Year 2, you'd like to see Bridgewater continue to improve as he pushes the ball down the field and cut down on the number of interceptions. If Bridgewater can hit receivers in stride the way we saw him do at the end of the season, I'd expect both his yards-per-attempt number and his touchdowns to increase, as receivers get some opportunities for big plays after the catch.
For comparison's sake, here are Wilson's Year 2 numbers: 257-for-407 (63.2 percent), 3,357 yards, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, 44 sacks. Assuming Bridgewater winds up with a little higher completion percentage, can he wind up in the neighborhood of 3,100 yards, 22-24 TDs and 10 picks? The Vikings would have to be very happy with that kind of a progression, I'd imagine.