With the NFL draft season behind us, and training camps yet to open, I thought this week would be a good opportunity to get to some reader’s questions.
By Jordan Wright
Alex from South Dakota asks “Will Stefon Diggs hit a sophomore slump?”
Thanks for the question Alex! Stefon Diggs was drafted in the fifth round of last year’s draft, and rode the bench for the first three games of the season. However, once Charles Johnson got injured, Diggs was able to get on the field and he didn’t disappoint. Diggs led the Vikings in receiving yards against one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Denver Broncos, and just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Diggs led the team in receiving the next five weeks as well. Diggs finished the season with 720 yards and four touchdowns, easily leading the team in receiving yards (Kyle Rudolph was second with 495 yards).
It’s fair to wonder if Diggs will encounter what is known as the sophomore slump. Typically, players regress some in their second years because other teams have tape on the player and can study his strengths and weaknesses to come up with a game play to shut him down. Going back over the tape from last season, it’s clear Stefon is a special player. I don’t think he will hit the slump, considering he will have another year in the system and should play in all the games this year. On a team that still has the best running back in the NFL, and a dynamic wide receiver who was just drafted in the first round in Laquon Treadwell, Diggs will see plenty of one on one situations and he will thrive in that role.
Lynn from North Dakota asks “Have the Vikings done enough in the offseason to improve the offensive line, allowing Teddy to open up the passing game”?
Another great question, Thanks Lynn! The Vikings offensive line was it’s weakest link last season and it wasn’t even close. Right after the playoff loss to Seattle, Mike Zimmer chose not to renew Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson’s contract. Zimmer has since replaced Davidson with Tony Sparano, a hard-nosed football coach with previous head coaching experience. The Vikings also brought in free agents Alex Boone and Andre Smith to help bring some viciousness to the offensive line.
The best case scenario is that Matt Kalil finally proves he was worth drafting number four overall, Alex Boone lives up to the hype, John Sullivan comes back from injury at 100 percent, Brandon Fusco becomes good again with the move back to the right side, and Phil Loadholt returns from injury as good as ever. That’s a lot of things that have to go right. The bright side is that the Vikings have more depth along the offensive line than they have had in years. With plenty of veterans who are tired of being embarrassed and young players eager to prove their worth, the Vikings should be able to find the right mix along the line to help steady the ship. We don’t need the offensive line to be great. We just need them to not be horrible.
Robert from Minnesota asks “Is Mackensie Alexander good enough to start over Trae Waynes?”
Fantastic question, as Alexander is one of my favorite players from this year’s draft. Mackensie was listed on most draft sites as a first round corner, who fell due to his lack of height. However, Mike Zimmer is known around the league as a defensive backs guru, and if he says Alexander is tall enough, who am I to question that? One thing I really like about Mack is his work ethic. ESPN did a fantastic feature on him called “Mackensie Alexander’s field of opportunity: From Florida’s orange groves to the NFL” and if you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend taking a few minutes to check it out.
While Alexander has the ability to be a starter in the NFL, I don’t think Trae Waynes’ job is in jeopardy. I would imagine Mack will be brought along slowly, just like Waynes was last season. One thing to keep in mind is Captain Munnerlyn’s contract will be up after this season, so it’s entirely possibly Alexander was drafted to be his replacement in the slot. With most teams playing in the nickel defense the majority of the time, the third corner on the team is very important. A lineup of Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes on the outside with Alexander covering the slot would be excellent and provide Minnesota the best defensive backfield they have had in a long time.
Have any comments or questions of your own? Feel free to reach out to me by e-mail (skoljwright@gmail. com), on Facebook (facebook.com/ skoljwright) and on Twitter (@ skoljwright). Thanks for reading. Skol!