1. With the release of Gs Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris as well as the pending free agency of LT Matt Kalil, do the Vikings HAVE to draft a O-lineman with their first pick (2nd round) in the draft?
Kras: The Vikings don’t HAVE to draft any O-lineman if they don’t want to. Nor should they draft an O-lineman if it is a reach. I believe if there is a guy they believe can be a starter going into the season then sure, use the pick to draft an O-lineman. There is plenty of concern on the O-line as LT Matt Kalil’s contract is up as well. Assuming the Vikings retain Kalil, they will likely add some depth through free agency, and I think they will address the O-line in the draft. However, it doesn’t have to be with their first pick. There are plenty of other positions that need work – LBs, RBs, and another DB never hurts.
Nate Leer: Simply, no. Taking a 3rd round talent in the 2nd round just to fill a need only makes the problem worse. Overdrafting players not only weakens a team’s overall talent, it also tends to make teams feel they have to play guys more or in positions of more responsibility than they are ready for. Example: Christian Ponder – drafted too high and fans expected more than he could deliver while management and coaches felt like they had to get him in early and that he solved a problem that clearly he did not. Let’s say the Vikes do reach for a developmental OT or solid OG who might be overmatched at RT, where they might need him to play. Then the players, fans and coaches would expect this guy to be plugged right in and take care of the right edge. Instead the player would be overmatched leading to problems for the team and potentially setting back his development. Instead, they should find values at each draft slot and if they can’t address OL early with a quality pick, wait a round or 2 and use a quantity approach by taking 2-3 guys and trying to hit on one of them early on.
2. Was Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau playing mind games with Chicago when he didn’t play stud goalie Devan Dubnyk in last week’s matchup against the Blackhawks?
Kras: I don’t know Bruce well enough to say for sure but I would lean towards doubtful. Boudreau doesn’t appear to be the guy who is going to try and get another team going by jeopardizing his own team and beliefs. The game against Chicago was the second game of a back to back and Devan Dubnyk started the game before against Toronto. It would make sense that Dubnyk would get the next night off. Even if the Wild were behind the Blackhawks in the standings, I don’t think that would be a game where Dubnyk would be a must start. It’s great that the Wild are having some sustained success but I don’t think they have built up enough clout to be playing mind games. It might take a couple Cups before they get the reputation to be able to pull that off.
JJ Benz: No, it was a scheduled day off coming off a back to back. Boudreau has been stellar in his regular season record. The #1 seed would be nice but if he continues to fail in the playoffs, he might be out of a job. Mind games should not be a part of his strategies. The team has an 8 game homestand coming up and I believe Boudreau will start Dubnyk when the games mean something.
3. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are ranked as high as a #7 seed in the NCAA tournament according to some March Madness polls. Do you believe that is too high, not high enough, or about right?
Kras: The Gophers have started to trend in the right direction the last few games and hopefully that will continue against Indiana University in their next game. It would be hard for me to put the Gophers much higher than a #7 seed personally but it is possible they flirt with a #5 if they finish strong. If they finish the season 3-3 and and win a game in the BIG 10 tournament I think they would end up around a #7 seed. However if they can finish the season 4-2 and beat either Maryland or Wisconsin in the process and then go on and win a game or two in the BIG 10 tournament, the Gophers could be up in the #5 seed range. It seems like a long shot for that to happen as they have been fairly inconsistent throughout the season, but they have showed some signs of maturing as a team and being able to play some pretty good defensive basketball which will help in the NCAA tournament when they need to slow teams down.
Nate Leer: That is about right for the Gophs but they could trend up as they have been competitive in most of their games. Like Kras said, they will need to play better and win some big games down the stretch. That said, the bracket committee usually likes teams that are competitive even in losses. Makes for much better TV. So the Gophs should be positioned well and have some nice young talent that would look good in the national spotlight.
1. Is Tiger Woods done and should we stop paying attention to his “comebacks”?
Kras: As long as Tiger is trying to swing a club to ready himself to play competitively, it will be talked about and people will give it attention. That said, I don’t think it is worth much attention at all. Tiger hasn’t been able to remain healthy in limited action as of late, so I have no reason to believe he can finish an entire tournament. At this point I don’t believe he will be playing in the Masters much less competing and playing in the final round. As dominant as he once was, he isn’t that guy anymore.
JJ Benz: I believe that Tiger has done so much to grow the sport that the public will not let go of its fascination with the chase of Jack’s major record. Health will be the major down fall of Tiger’s comeback. If his back healed properly and he doesn’t come back too soon, he will be back. People of all ages enjoy the game of golf. However, to competing at the level he did in his prime may not never be reached or maybe only on the senior tour.
2. Have the NY Knicks become the most dysfunctional franchise in all of sports?
Kras: I would have to vote yes, at this point. Any time you have a former player verbally assaulting the team owner and then physically assaulting a security guard, before being removed from the grounds and taken to jail, I think you put the “fun” in dysfunction and they put themselves at the top of the list. No one is happy in New York right now from ownership right on down through the players. They have literally untradeable contracts with overpaid, underperforming, aging vets and I am glad I am not a fan. They need a new owner, a new GM, a new coach and something around Kristaps Porzingas before I think they will get it turned around.
Nate Leer: Kras nailed it with his list of needs for the Knickerbockers. Considering that the team is a complete joke from the top down AND that they have become a spectacle, I would answer this question “Yes!” The Browns are horrible but at least they have a respectable head coach and a good salary cap sitch. The Lakers have some management drama but at least have a handful of quality young prospects. Granted the Knicks got it right with Porzingis but they went right back to their idiotic ways by handing Joakim Noah too much money for WAY too long. Classic NY misstep.
3. Will the Patriots get a haul of draft picks for Jimmy Garoppolo and will he be worth it to the team that gets him?
Kras: Any time you give up a haul of draft picks you generally lose on that deal. You help another team build quicker while potentially setting yourself back several years by losing those picks. I like Jimmy Garoppolo but he alone will not be enough to turn a franchise around and I’m not sold on Jimmy being the next great QB to lead a team to a Super Bowl. If I am an NFL team and I need a QB, I would go into the draft looking for Deshaun Watson and if that doesn’t work out, then I would inquire about the cost of Jimmy G.
Nate Leer: I think yes and probably no. The Pats seem to always make the right move and that included drafting Jacoby Brissett last year. He actually has more physical talent than Garoppolo and is cheaply under club control going forward. The Pats can now exchange the young QB for several picks and may smartly take more, lower picks as opposed to a 1st rounder. As for the team that gets Garoppolo, they will likely be more than just a solid QB away from being good and will be short draft picks. The track records of young QBs with limited experience who move to new teams is far from stellar and the list is littered with failures from Scott Mitchell to Brock Osweiler and many more.