Scoggins: Super Bowl lessons for Vikings — keep stars, fix defense

The conversation takes place in 30 NFL markets now that the Super Bowl is complete and the silly season begins. Are there lessons to be learned or a blueprint to copy from the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers?

Why yes, sure, it would be wonderful to have a Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. Or a roster stocked with All-Pro players.

Piece of cake.

Meanwhile, the Vikings have a quarterback quandary hanging over the entire organization, a star receiver awaiting a massive payday and holes galore in their defense. But other than that …

A new speculation game to fill the void before free agency in March and the draft in April involves Justin Jefferson and whether the Vikings should attempt to trade him in the hopes of landing the No. 1 pick to select Southern Cal quarterback Caleb Williams.

Fun debate, but this is highly unlikely because the Bears would be foolish to pass on Williams … unless they somehow don't understand their own quarterback history and aren't paying attention to the dynasty being built in Kansas City. Mahomes just won his third Super Bowl at age 28. He has no peer. It's unfair to project any quarterback in that stratosphere, but Williams is viewed as a special talent, a creative and dazzling playmaker who can change a franchise's fortunes.

The NFL Network reported it will take a "historic haul" for the Bears to trade the No. 1 pick. A thousand rumors and reports will surface between now and when the Bears are on the clock on April 25, but I'll be shocked if there is any outcome other than Williams landing in Chicago.

In Minnesota, the decision on whether to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a new deal figures to be the first domino to fall, and then Jefferson's contract, in GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's offseason labyrinth.

Some question the logic in paying a receiver $30-plus million annually while noting that the Chiefs traded star receiver Tyreek Hill rather than pay him top dollar and proceeded to win back-to-back Super Bowls without him.

One obvious distinction: The Chiefs had Mahomes. Every roster decision is easier to stomach knowing you have a franchise savior at quarterback.

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Jefferson's presence is a key part of whatever decision the Vikings make at quarterback. With Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O'Connell approaching their third season together, this feels like a pivotal moment, so those two choosing a path absent Jefferson does not seem plausible.

The Chiefs offer a lesson beyond everyone's envy of their quarterback situation: The importance of drafting well.

The Chiefs traded Hill and then promptly crushed the 2022 draft a month later. Their draft class produced Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis, Isiah Pacheco, Bryan Cook, Leo Chenal and Jaylen Watson.

McDuffie was named first-team All-Pro at cornerback this season. Karlaftis tied for a team-high in sacks. Pacheco emerged as a dynamic running back. Chenal started 10 games and finished fifth on the team in tackles. Cook was a starter at safety before getting injured. Watson recovered a fumble on a punt in the Super Bowl.

Now compare that class to the Vikings' 2022 draft, Adofo-Mensah's first as GM. On second thought, don't look. Too depressing.

It's been stated before but cannot be stated enough: The lack of production from the 2022 draft class has had a dramatic impact on present problems and future plans. Especially on defense.

The uncertainty over whether any of the defensive players in that class can develop into reliable pieces essentially forces Adofo-Mensah to re-address areas that he thought he had solved.

Brian Flores did a masterful job designing a unique scheme that mitigated personnel flaws, but offenses eventually exposed their deficiencies. The importance of Adofo-Mensah's drafting and free-agent signings this offseason cannot be overstated. The defense desperately needs an infusion of difference-makers.

The quarterback decision probably causes him to lose sleep, but everything else is vitally important. My proposals: Sign Cousins to a two-year deal, draft a quarterback, sign Jefferson and focus heavily on the defense in the draft and free agency.

The Super Bowl provided a contrast in salaries of the two quarterbacks, Mahomes and Brock Purdy. There was a common theme between the two teams, though: Both fielded terrific defenses. If the Vikings are looking for a Super Bowl lesson, start there.