Over the course of the last two days, the folks from Pro Football Focus have been doing their offensive line rankings for the 2011 season, and I was a bit confused, to say the least. They did the bottom half of the league yesterday, and only one of the NFC North's four teams was on the list. . .and it was not our favorite team. No, the only NFC North team in the bottom half of the rankings was the Chicago Bears. . .who, according to PFF's rating system, had the worst offensive line in football in 2011.
So today, they came out with the rankings for the top half of the league. Knowing that the Vikings weren't in the bottom half of the league is somewhat comforting, I guess, but I was curious as to where PFF had them. So, scrolled down the page. . .past the Green Bay Packers (who came in at #11). . .past the Detroit Lions (who came in at #10). . .and finally found the Minnesota Vikings ranked as having the 7th-best offensive line in the National Football League in 2011.
I'm not quite sure I understand.According to PFF's ranking system. . .which I, admittedly, don't know all of the components of. . .the Vikings had the second-best run-blocking offensive line in the NFL last year (behind only the Philadelphia Eagles), ranked 16th in terms of pass blocking, and 8th in terms of penalties. PFF broke it down like this:
For years the Vikings’ line has struggled to open up holes, so what happened this year? Well, chiefly, they got a little bit more mobile with the loss of Bryant McKinnie and got excellent play from their interior line. They could still stand to get better at certain spots and may have to deal with moving on from Steve Hutchinson. Overall, things are encouraging with some of the talent they do have.
Best Player: In a move that nobody saw coming, John Sullivan (+22.5) started playing like one of the best centers in the league.
Worst Player: In all honesty, we probably expected worse from Charlie Johnson (-12.4). He may prove a better fit at guard.
So, I get that Sullivan stepped up his game in a big way this year, and I get that Charlie Johnson was a disaster at left tackle (though I think he'll make a significantly better guard in 2012). But the Vikings gave up the fifth-most sacks in the National Football League in 2011 with 49. I understand that part of it probably has to do with lining two young, indecisive (at this point) quarterbacks up behind center for the better part of the season, but man. . .I just can't grasp the concept of the Minnesota Vikings having one of the seven best offensive lines in the National Football League as things stand right now.
Despite these rankings, if the Vikings are sitting there with the 3rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Matt Kalil is available, and this team takes anyone else, the entire front office needs to be fired immediately. In my opinion, anyway. Kalil, who weighed in at the NFL Combine today at 306 pounds, is the best offensive tackle prospect to come into the draft since Joe Thomas. . .again, just my opinion. . .and would be able to immediately step in and start at left tackle. The Vikings could then move Charlie Johnson to one of the guard spots (probably left guard, if Steve Hutchinson ends up getting cut), and have a battle in training camp for the right guard spot between guys like Joe Berger and Brandon Fusco. . .I don't include Anthony Herrera in a potential battle because I don't think he's going to be here next season.
I don't think the Vikings' offensive line is as good as Pro Football Focus seems to think it is, but maybe. . .just maybe. . .the potential is already there and it just needs to be coaxed out.