When Josh Andrews was picked up by the Vikings during the off-season, there wasn’t much fanfare. Great- a second-rate, backup, practice squad, free-agent offensive lineman - big deal.
Andrews came from Philadelphia, so presumably new Vikings offense coordinator John DeFilippo must have liked what he saw in Andrews while he was there.
Andrews, 27, was a backup center/guard in Philadelphia during his four years there - half of which were spent on the practice squad - including last season.
All that doesn’t suggest much - on and off practice squad, only played in a couple games, never won a starting job.
The big hurdle for Andrews was that he was playing behind Jason Kelce, who went to two Pro-Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in three of Andrews’ four years with the Eagles.
At left guard, where Andrews played at Oregon State, there was less formidable competition after Evan Mathis left, but Allen Barbre and Stefan Wisniewski were the preferred veterans and played well for Eagles. That left Andrews with a Super Bowl ring but not much of a starting opportunity in Philly.
Minnesota, by contrast, is the land of opportunity when it comes to the offensive line. I’m not sure how many offensive linemen have started for the Vikings over the past few years - but I’m gonna guess more than 20. And with Nick Easton on IR and Pat Elflein on the PUP list, a guy who can play both guard and center should have a decent opportunity. Especially as the only guy with any substantial playing experience vying for the left guard position is Tom Compton.
So What Does Josh Andrews Bring to the Table?
Andrews is 6’2”, 311 lbs. and as you can see a little from the picture, built like a tank - but also good athleticism.
Against Denver Andrews played 40 snaps at center and 7 at left guard (at end of game) and was the highest graded offensive linemen for the Vikings according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). His grade for the Denver game is very representative of his career pre-season grade - low 80s (good) in pass protection and low-mid 70s (average) in run blocking. From what I can infer, his run blocking grade at left guard is a little better than at center over his career.
Those grades are very competitive compared to his competition at left guard and center. Andrews also did well enough in preseason to beat out a former 3rd round pick for a roster spot in 2015. Andrews himself was undrafted in 2014.
So, the Vikings and new OL coaches Andrew Janocko and Clancy Barone have something to work with in Josh Andrews, who showed well against the Broncos.
It may be worthwhile for the Vikings to give Andrews some first/second team reps at left guard against the Jaguars - both in practices and in the pre-season game - to see how he does there before taking over at center for Edison.