MINNEAPOLIS -- In this week's edition of the Minnesota Vikings Twitter mailbag, we preview the Vikings' top-30 prospects event next week, look at the state of the offensive line and consider some pre-draft trade possibilities:
@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone -- hope you've had a great week. We'll get started here. You'll hear plenty this week about the Vikings' top-30 prospects event, so we'll start with a quick primer on what it is. Each team can schedule private visits with 30 players before the NFL draft; the Vikings typically condense many of those visits into a two-day event where they can put players in front of their coaching staff and observe how they interact with each other. One common use of the event is for the Vikings to check on players they deem to be character risks, and the players the team brings to town shouldn't necessarily be considered the top 30 players on their draft board. But the Vikings have certainly drafted players they've brought in on private visits in recent years; Matt Kalil attended their top-30 event in 2012, Anthony Barr was there in 2014 and Trae Waynes came to town last year. This year, with receivers like TCU's Josh Doctson and Mississippi's Laquon Treadwell scheduled to attend, the Vikings are spending a little more time with players they might select as targets for Teddy Bridgewater. It's a continuation of the work they've already done to scout players at that position.
#VikingsMail What history do the Vikings have with signing players that attend the top-30?— James Riedel (@JamesMRiedel) March 31, 2016
@GoesslingESPN: As you mentioned, the Vikings have some open questions on the offensive line after this season; Matt Kalil, Joe Berger, Phil Loadholt, Andre Smith and Mike Harris are all set to become free agents, and neither John Sullivan nor Brandon Fusco has any guaranteed cash left in his deal. In some ways, though, the Vikings have intentionally set things up that way; it will add a sense of urgency to their offensive line competition this year, and they'll essentially be able to remake the group after this year if they choose to do so. In light of that, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them take an offensive lineman early in the draft; they could need a starter or two in 2017, and as Rick Spielman has said, it can take linemen some time to figure out how to be effective in the NFL. The way the Vikings approach the draft, and with how many questions they have at the position after this year, we shouldn't assume they won't take a lineman just because they've made some additions in free agency.
#VikingsMail how does MN address draft for OL? Nice depth now, but only 4 of top 9 signed after this year?— Dusty Powers (@DusPow) March 30, 2016
Nick Easton and Jeremiah Sirles last year and keeping Zac Kerin on the practice squad the last two years. Kerin was active for six games last year, and Alex Boone has already praised him in a couple radio interviews; at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, he's got the size to be a formidable center in the league. It will be interesting to see if Sirles can develop into a solid backup or viable starter at tackle -- remember, he beat out Mike Harris on the Chargers' roster in 2014, before Harris went to the Vikings -- and Easton's quickness and intelligence helped him catch the Vikings' eye before they acquired him last October. Austin Shepherd also got some time in the Vikings' heavy package last year, and could get some work at either guard or tackle. The depth of the group, and the number of hungry veterans the Vikings have, means the younger linemen will have to fight for playing time. If one can rise to the occasion, though, he'll have earned his spot.
We'll wrap it up there for the week; thanks for all the great questions, everyone. Enjoy your weekend, and we'll talk next week.