I'm going to be writing one of these articles for every position on the Vikings. Today I'm going to blog about the O-line.
There is one thing I hate to see as a Vikings fan. It's the most frustrating play I've ever seen and it happens so often, it makes me want to pull my hair out. What is that play? You know the one where Adrian Peterson gets the ball and then runs into a wall a nanosecond later. The Vikings offensive line is truly wasting Peterson's talents. It needs to be fixed. Every position on the line played horrible last season. Of course there are different reasons for that. Steve Hutchinson is getting old and was injured. Sullivan was injured and, let's face it, has as much talent as Cam Newton has intelligence. Bryant McKinnie is just fat. The right guard rotation doesn't have a keeper and Phil Loadholt is way too penalty prone. Add in how inept Visanthe Shaincoe is at blocking and you have an offensive line that is going to get manhandled in every NFC North game. Here's how we're going to fix it.
1. Center - John Sullivan would be a quality starting center in the UFL. But this the NFL and Sullivan's inadequate size and run blocking just won't cut it. To fix our problem at center we will have to go to free agency. The Viking's new offensive line coach, Jeff Davidson, used to be the offensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers. While the Panthers had a dismal season, their team had a couple bright spots including the development of stud center Ryan Kalil. Unfortunately for the Panthers, he's a free agent. Minnesota going to have to hand over some cash for Kalil to wear purple and gold next season but it will be worth it. The guy is well on his way to being the best center in the league. I think Kalil is the only major free agent who has a great chance of signing with the Vikings. Hopefully he follows the coach who developed him to Minnesota.
2. Left Tackle - Bryant McKinnie is a waste of talent. A really fat waste of talent. The guy doesn't care about the team and can't stay in shape. Regardless, the Vikings with have to keep him because
A. No one wants him
B. He actually has some value to the team, just not at left tackle.
I just wrote an article suggesting that the Vikings should draft offensive lineman early but I'm going to contradict myself here. I have become particularly enamored with a few players that are not offensive lineman at the 12th pick. Anyways, I don't think any of the offensive lineman in this draft class are worthy of such a high pick. I think we should once again go to free agency. The top two tackles in this free agent class, in my opinion, are Doug Free and Tyson Clabo. I think Doug Free is the better of the two but Tyson Clabo will cost a lot less. That's not because Free is that much better than Clabo but rather because Free is, as of now, a Dallas Cowboy. The owner of the Dallas Cowboys is Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones throws his money around like he's playing Monopoly. Jerry Jones is going to overpay for Doug Free and that's why I want Clabo.
Note - Ryan Kalil and Tyson Clabo are the only major free agents I have the Vikings signing in my offseason plan so I don't think I'm being unrealistic.
3. Right Tackle - Now for the big question: What do we do with Bryant McKinnie? People might notice he's missing.... Maybe we could just hide him in a closet in the Vikings training facility? Here's a better idea, we can just send him over to the McDonalds in Eden Prairie! He'll never leave! He can eat to his hearts content! Oh wait, he already does that.......
In all seriousness, I think we should move McKinnie to Right Tackle. the switch would allow McKinnie to faceoff against worse defensive ends and the switch would hide some of his flaws. Bryant McKInnie could have some use! By the way, McKinnie has hired a personal trainer to make sure he stays in shape! How much do you want to bet that Frazier hired the guy?
4. Right Guard - This is where Phil Loadholt comes in. The guy has talent. He just seems incapable, at least for now, of handling speedy defensive ends. If a DE gets behind him he'll resort to grabbing the facemask or holding the opposing player. Loadholt is 6-8 and weighs 343 pounds. He could easily slide over to the right guard position. With his massive size, Loadholt could be a great right guard for the Vikings.
5. Left Guard - This is the only position on the line that is staying intact. I want Hutchinson to start, at least for one more season. Yes he's getting up there in age but the guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer and can teach guys like Chris DeGeare a lot. Despite having a down season, he was still our best offensive lineman. He was injured last season too. Let's see what he can do once he's healthy again.
6. Depth - Ryan Cook can play every position on the offensive line if need be. He has to stay. Add in Chris DeGeare and a 4th or 5th round draft pick and you have your new and improved 2011 Vikings offensive line!