In our look around the Minnesota Vikings’ roster heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, we’ve gotten to one of the big, ugly spots. . .the offensive line. The Vikings made a couple of moves to address the position in free agency, but there’s still plenty of work to be done here.
We’ll start with a look around the interior of the offensive line, which wasn’t quite as bad as the tackle positions, but wasn’t exactly good by any means, either.
The Old Guy - Joe Berger
Of all the offensive linemen that the Minnesota Vikings rolled out onto the field in 2016. . .and there damn sure were a lot of them. . .the only one that really managed to not go out and embarrass himself on a weekly basis was Berger, the elder statesman of the group. Berger will be 35 by the time the season starts, and is in the final year of his contract with the Vikings. He’s been graded as one of the better centers in the league by Pro Football Focus in each of the years that he’s been a starter, but it’s fair to start wondering when age is going to catch up to him. Still, until his play on the field gives us reason to think otherwise, he’s the Vikings’ best offensive lineman.
The Young Guy - Nick Easton
The Vikings thought enough of Easton back in 2015 to send Gerald Hodges to San Francisco to acquire him in a trade. He’s gotten a couple of looks at center when Berger has missed time, and has shown signs that he can possibly be a solution at the center spot for the long-term in Minnesota. He obviously needs to show more, sample size being what it is and everything, but I think the team would be fine with Easton backing up Berger this season.
The Rich Guy - Alex Boone
Boone was the Vikings’ big prize in free agency last offseason, and while he wasn’t awful or anything at the left guard spot, I don’t think he had quite the season that the Vikings were expecting out of him. (Of course, that might have something to do with the millstone at left tackle he was playing next to, but that’s another debate for another time.) From what we’ve read about Boone, I’m sure he’s not super impressed with the season he had last year, either, and will be looking to improve next season.
The Guy. . .For Now - Jeremiah Sirles
Sirles is another player that the Vikings acquired in a trade and has gotten a little bit of work with the team. He’s seen time at both guard and tackle, though if the season were to start tomorrow I’d have to believe he’d be the starter at right guard. Of course, since we still have the draft to go through, I don’t think we should expect this to be the case. I think Sirles has the ability to be a solid depth guy for the line and has starter potential, but like the rest of the Vikings’ offensive line, he’s got some work to do. But he has the ability to back up pretty much every position on the line, which is nice.
The Unknown Guy - Zac Kerin
Kerin has been with the Vikings for a few years, and finally got on the field last year on a couple of occasions when Brandon Fusco was hurt. He signed his Exclusive Rights free agent deal to come back to the team. He’s listed by the team as a guard/center, but has only seen any NFL action thus far at the guard spot. The Vikings might like his versatility on the inside, too, but with the Vikings sure to add a draft pick at the guard spot and Sirles already being a bit more established, he might get caught up in the numbers come roster cut time.
The. . .Guy - Willie Beavers
I’ll get this out of the way now. . .we’ve all been a little hard on the Beavers. The pick was universally panned, and Beavers’ play in the limited action he saw in 2016 didn’t exactly do a whole lot to instill confidence. To be honest, I’m not sure how much upside the kid from Western Michigan has at this point, and I don’t know if the team would go so far as to cut bait with him after just one season or not. . .I mean, they already have a guy that sort of falls under that heading in T.J. Clemmings. He didn’t make the roster out of camp last year, and got called up from the practice squad because the Vikings’ offensive line looked more like the 4077th than a football unit. It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with him this season.
That’s a quick look at the interior linemen the Vikings have on their roster at the present time. We’ll take a look at the tackle spot separately, as well as some players the Vikings could be looking at drafting next week at these interior line positions.