Scott Crichton a pleasant surprise for Vikings

Thanks to all of you who submitted questions for this week's Minnesota Vikings mailbag. You can submit questions at any point during the week on Twitter, using the hashtag #VikingsMail. I'm taking some time off at the end of this week, so we're going to keep this week's editions of the mailbag on the shorter side. We'll tackle one question in each edition this weekend.

@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone. Hope you're having a great weekend. It's hard to come to a complete evaluation of surprises at this point, since players don't have pads on yet. That makes it especially hard to determine where players on the line of scrimmage are at, but based on how the Vikings have talked about him, I'd say defensive end Scott Crichton.

After leaving Oregon State a year early, Crichton really struggled to pick up the fundamentals of the Vikings' system in his rookie season. He's gotten a long look during OTAs with Brian Robison out, and he seems much more comfortable than he was a year ago.

"He’s not thinking so much," coach Mike Zimmer said. "He’s more attacking and then playing football as opposed to thinking and then playing football. In a lot of those ways he’s improved a lot. We’ve moved him inside some and he’s flashed a little bit in there, but again, I’m being cautious with my evaluations."

The Vikings took Crichton in the third round because they believed he had plenty of upside, and they knew in some ways it was going to take him time to figure things out. But it seems like they're planning on him having a significant role this season. I'll be curious to see if he can carry things forward into training camp and the preseason.

We'll wrap things up there for the day, and come back tomorrow to get ready for the Vikings' mandatory minicamp from Tuesday-Thursday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and we'll talk this week.