Sports mailbag: Your questions on Vikings, Gophers, Twins

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer before an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs on November 3, 2019 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. ( (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) )

Sports are shut down. The Coronavirus pandemic has us confined to our homes, relegated to watching classic games we already know the results of.

There are no live sports for the time being, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about sports. So let’s mailbag, shall we? Here’s what you wanted to find out.

@ErikThibault – Which of (Dru) Samia or (Oli) Udoh is more likely to start in 2020?

I will freely admit I’m not a great Vikings back-up offensive line mind, but it’s an interesting question. Based solely on the numbers, Samia would be the more likely candidate. He was drafted in the fourth round last year, and saw action in two games. He was in eight plays in special teams, and saw 31 snaps on the offensive line in the regular season finale against the Chicago Bears, when most of the starters rested. He’s gained valuable experience in his rookie season, and he’ll look to take another step in Year 2.

Udoh will probably have to fight to make the 53-man roster. He didn’t play a single regular season snap last year, and the Vikings will add offensive line depth at some point in next week’s NFL Draft.

@ErikThibault – If the Vikings go truly go 3-4 hybrid, LB and DE have to be in draft mix, correct?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t done a single Vikings mock draft. I’ve looked at the names for their two first-round picks, and defensive end is certainly in the mix. Everson Griffen and Stephen Weatherly are gone, and Michael Pierce hopes to replace Linval Joseph at nose tackle. One guy I would keep an eye on is A.J. Epeneza out of Iowa. The All-American terrorized the Big Ten this year. Yetur Gross-Matos out of Penn State is also a hot name at defensive end.

As for linebacker, the Vikings have Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Eric Wilson back. They also drafted Cam Smith last year.

@mattsocamn – Is (Michael) Pineda’s suspension pro-rated to the number of games the MLB ends up playing this year?

Let’s first recap what we know. Michael Pineda was suspended the last month of the season after testing positive for a banned substance, a diuretic he was using to maintain weight and lower his blood pressure. At the time, Pineda was 11-5 with a 4.01 earned run average in 26 starts. He had 140 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 141 innings pitched. The Twins sure could’ve used him against the Yankees.

Pineda is currently suspended 39 games to start the 2020 season, whenever that happens. He’ll serve that total if MLB has a full 162-game schedule. While I can’t give an official answer, if MLB opts to shorten its season, I would have to imagine they would work something out with Pineda for the appropriate punishment.

What’s the ceiling for Gophers QB Tanner Morgan this year?

Don’t be taking a bite food or sipping a beverage when you read this: His ceiling is the Heisman Trophy. One Las Vegas hotel near the end of last season had Morgan at 10-1 odds this year to be in contention for the Heisman, which goes annually to the best player in college football. When you look at the numbers, he was right there in efficiency with the best quarterbacks in the country. He set a Division I record for completion percentage at Purdue. He finished the season completing 66 percent of his passes for more than 3,200 yards, 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

If he is in contention for the Heisman Trophy at the end of the year, whenever that is, the Gophers are likely contending for the College Football Playoff. Minnesota has one Heisman Trophy winner, Bruce Smith in 1941.

Will sports start back in empty stadiums?

There’s a very real possibility that whenever sports do resume, they will at least start with no fans in attendance. Every major sport across the globe has had the discussion, for safety concerns with the Coronavirus pandemic, of starting back up in empty arenas and stadiums. Several Minnesota athletes when asked about it hope it doesn’t come to that, but it certainly is an option to resume sports if we don’t feel it’s safe yet to gather in a public space.

Will the Vikings trade for Odell Beckham Jr.?

Social media was ablaze earlier this week when a WFAN Radio report out of New York had the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings in trade talks for Odell Beckham Jr. Multiple national reporters have since refuted the trade talks, and members of the Browns front office say it’s completely false. Anything can happen for the right place, but I highly doubt this happens.

The Vikings have $12 million in cap space, and Beckham will want to get paid. And if we thought recently traded Stefon Diggs was a diva, he’s a minor leaguer compared to Beckham. There’s a good chance the Vikings coaching staff, mainly Mike Zimmer, doesn’t want that distraction anywhere near Minnesota.

Thanks for your questions, and enjoy the NFL Draft!