We’re about two and a half months from the start of Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings (and 31 other less important NFL teams). That means we’ve entered the long, dark tea time of the offseason, and there’s time for plenty of speculation and projection.
Over behind the great E$PN paywall, they’ve listed the biggest remaining holes on each team’s roster now that the bulk of free agency and the NFL Draft are past us, and as expected, the biggest hole for the Vikings now is the same as it was when the offseason started: the guard position.
Minnesota has one of the strongest rosters in the NFL, but cornerback was a quiet need. Mike Hughes was drafted late in the first round to give the Vikings another option in the slot this season. (The Vikings also brought back veteran Terence Newman after the draft.) That leaves the question marks on the offensive line, particularly on the interior. The Vikings did draft Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O’Neill in the second round, but they did not draft a guard until Colby Gossett in the sixth round. Tom Brady aside, sixth-round picks rarely pan out as starters in this league. Guard remains the only position where the Vikings don’t have a player of Pro Bowl caliber or high draft stock. Last season’s starting right guard, Joe Berger, retired in the offseason. Nick Easton and Tom Compton are serviceable players with some starting experience, but that is the weakest link on a team that has serious Super Bowl aspirations.
I’m not sure how the Vikings plan to fix the guard position at this point. I would assume that one of the spots will be reclaimed by Nick Easton, who was the starter last season prior to breaking his ankle in Week 16. Easton isn’t a superstar by any stretch, but we all saw how quickly things went downhill following his injury.
The other guard spot, however, is likely going to be where we see the most important battle of Training Camp. The ESPN report mentions Compton as a possibility, and he did start some games with the Bears last year, so he’s an option. If Compton isn’t the starter, the Vikings might have some other options.
- Mike Remmers could move into one of the two guard spots, as the team did with him after Easton’s injury last year. That would likely make Rashod Hill the full-time starter at right tackle, and while he’s shown some promise previously, he also got abused quite a bit in the postseason in 2017.
- Barring that, the team could try to put second-round pick Brian O’Neill at the right tackle spot, but most of the experts out there say that O’Neill isn’t ready to go yet, and the Vikings might not want to risk messing with his potential development, lest they find themselves with another T.J. Clemmings situation on their hands.
- The Vikings might also have a couple of in-house options in last year’s fifth-round pick, Danny Isidora, and this year’s sixth-round choice, Colby Gossett. Isidora was okay in limited action in 2017, and we don’t know how Gossett is going to adjust to the pro game yet, but those two are possibilities as well.
- The team could also see if they can potentially get a free agent on the cheap before the start of camp. We’ll go over some of the names that are still out there in a future post.
We know that the Vikings had quite the rebuild to do on the offensive line following the disaster of 2016, and they’ve made decent progress in doing that so far. But, on a roster that’s loaded from top to bottom, it’s still the weak spot, and hopefully one the Vikings have a plan for fixing.