Lurtsema's Reaction: Stadiums and draft needs

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema tells what he thinks should be the top feature in any new stadium the Vikings might get, and he delves into the team's draft needs with a surprising position he thinks should be under consideration.

VU: With the Twins opening up their homes games this week in a new outdoor stadium, how much do you think that experience could help the Vikings with their stadium drive?

BL: That is really a tough question. I'd have to see what happens once they are a year into their new stadium. Are people going to follow the Twins when it's 35 or 40 degrees, which it's going to be sometimes, and then how many rain days are they going to have? They have 81 different opportunities for disastrous weather during their homes games of the regular season. With the Vikings, you only have 10 opportunities with the outdoor weather. I think it's going to be too hard to compare those because there are too many variables.

VU: What were some of the features you liked from other NFL stadiums that could be incorporated into a new stadium here?

BL: No. 1, it's got to be a retractable roof even though it wouldn't be used that much for the Vikings. In today's society, you can't have a stadium just for football because there are only 10 games you play there between preseason and the regular season in the NFL. With about a $900 million cost, you want to be able to have the people of Minnesota be able to enjoy it year-round. When the Twins were in the Metrodome, that place hosted something like 320 events a year. You take away the 80 Twins home games and you're still around 230 or 240 events they had there. Plus, a stadium with a retractable roof would draw the Super Bowl.

As far as the players go, for football you do it inexpensively and build an outdoor stadium and play in the elements. That's what football is all about. I think during my five years playing in Minnesota we might have had two questionable games for weather. The only one that was really questionable was when it was 31.9 degrees against the Bears. It was raining but it wasn't freezing and it would have been better if it froze. That's the only game that really chilled my bones. When it's 20 degrees, that's not a problem. Your adrenaline carries you. When fans are tailgating and have an outdoor facility, they can dress for just that event, whereas if you have to go inside a dome all the time you really have to dress twice – once for the tailgating and then you readjust your clothing for going inside the 70-degree weather of a dome. For those that do drink as part of their game-day experience, they really get hit between the eyes when they get inside the 70-degree dome.

VU: With the draft less than two weeks away, what do you see as two or three of the top needs the Vikings should address?

BL: Get a top defensive back. I think that's basically the No. 1 priority because basically Brett Favre is going to come back. As I wrote earlier in Viking Update for the magazine, I think they should look at getting a quarterback to groom and I like that Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan. I'm sticking with that, but they do need a defensive back. They're real strong on the line and I don't see any big needs on the defensive line.

But maybe a big combo blocking-receiving tight end. That depends on what type of offensive philosophy they're going to take. Do they want just a receiver at the tight end position or are they happy enough with an H-back tight end like Jeff Dugan or Jim Kleinsasser?

VU: Are you talking about a guy to replace Visanthe Shiancoe eventually or someone to complement him?

BL: It would be as a combination blocker-receiver. I think Shiancoe is more of a receiver than a true blocking tight end now. I'm talking about getting more of a standard tight end. Shiancoe used to be more of a blocking tight end to Jeremy Shockey with the Giants, but Shockey looked like he was really looking to block more in New Orleans from what I saw. The Vikings could just use a good combination in one tight end with what they have in their individual guys with Dugan, Kleinsasser and Shiancoe. But that depends on how much they are going to use an H-back. That's the big thing – what's their philosophy. Otherwise, defensive back. Linebackers are good, the line is good. You can look down the road, because when you lose on a 12-men-in-the-huddle call, you don't really have to look for a major overhaul. All you're looking for is a tweak in personnel and mainly coming back with your same group of guys a little wiser, more hungry, and then looking for a draft pick to groom that can help carry them for the next 10 years on their drives to the Super Bowl. I think when you groom somebody for the future, it goes right back to quarterback. You can't do that with a running back because their career expectancy is so low. There is no reason to do that now, especially with having Adrian Peterson.

VU: When you mention defensive back, there is talk about cornerback because of the injuries there and Antoine Winfield's age. But there is also talk about needing a safety. So do you think the need is greater at cornerback or safety?

BL: Good question. We're almost left with a guessing game. Are they planning to move Antoine Winfield – a great player and I love that kid – to safety in the next year or two or are they going to keep him at corner? Your bigger need in the defensive backfield depends on what you think of Winfield's future – is he going to be a better corner or safety? That has to come into your thinking as a coach. He's the key. I'd probably go corner for their top need. Get a good corner who is a strong nickel corner.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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