After toying with the idea of putting kicker as the #1 need for the Minnesota Vikings going into the 2019 NFL Draft, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the impending riot and put offensive line up at the top of the list instead. Normally we could break this down into tackle and guard, but with the state of the Vikings’ offensive line I think that we can lump the whole group together. This team needs to draft someone to bolster the offensive line early on, and they probably need to draft multiple players to that end.
Current Vikings offensive linemen: Riley Reiff (starter), Danny Isidora (starter. . .I guess), Pat Elflein (starter), Josh Kline (starter), Brian O’Neill (starter), Adam Bisnowaty, Aviante Collins, Dakota Dozier, Cornelius Edison, Rashod Hill, Brett Jones, Storm Norton
The biggest hole on the offensive line is, currently, at left guard, and I think we all understand that. What we don’t know is how the Vikings intend to fix it. Do they draft a player to plug into the left guard spot, or do they draft someone at tackle or center and shift either Reiff or Elflein into the left guard position? Frankly, I don’t want Reiff to move. . .I don’t particularly want Elflein to move, either, but of the two I’d be more comfortable with Elflein moving over than Reiff. That just my thought process.
As far as the backups? They can all fight it out. I’d like to see Jones get a bit more of an opportunity than he got in 2018, but other than that I’m not really all that attached to any of the other potential backups for this team on the offensive line.
Who could the Vikings look at and when. If you’ve been following the Mock Draft Database this offseason. . .and shame on you if you haven’t been. . .you know all the big names that most of us are dreaming of hearing Roger Goodell say on Thursday night. I don’t think that Jonah Williams or Jawaan Taylor is going to make it to #18, but there are a ton of other players that the Vikings should be looking at in the first round. If they want to go the tackle route, they should be in the right spot to get their hands on Andre Dillard, by far the best pass blocking tackle in this class. If they want a center, they should be in prime territory for Garrett Bradbury, who would appear to be an ideal fit in the new scheme the Vikings want to run. If they want someone they can just mold at the guard spot, they can look to Cody Ford or Chris Lindstrom or Dalton Risner.
The talent on the offensive line is going to be there when the Vikings pick at #18. They might. . .I repeat, might. . .even be able to trade back a bit and still get a Day 1 starter. It’s simply a matter of whether or not Rick Spielman wants to pull the trigger on an offensive lineman in the first round for the first time since 2012.
Should the Vikings elect to pass on an offensive lineman in Round 1, they almost certainly have to address the position in Round 2. If that’s the case, you’re probably looking at players like Elgton Jenkins or Eric McCoy among interior linemen, or perhaps even “not that” Michael Jordan. They could also look to someone like Kaleb McGary at tackle, though he’s not someone that I think could immediately start at left tackle. Unless the plan is to. . .deep breath. . .play McGary at right tackle while moving Brian O’Neill to left tackle and Reiff to left guard.
If the Vikings wait much longer than that to address the position, you’re pretty much into “developmental” territory at the tackle position, but there’s still some talent there to develop. Tytus Howard out of Alabama State comes to mind, as does Max Scharping of Northern Illinois.
The later rounds could still produce some interior prospects with the ability to play early on. I’d be looking for someone like Nate Davis out of Charlotte in the 4th-5th round range, or someone like Oklahoma’s Dru Samia or Alex Bars from Notre Dame a little later on. Even if the Vikings do address the offensive line early, adding someone like Samia or Bars later on certainly wouldn’t hurt.
But, as we’ve been screaming for months, this is undoubtedly the #1 need for the Vikings going into the draft. They need to address it early, and in a perfect world they address it often, too. Wherever or however they choose to address it, this offensive line needs talent across the board, and the Vikings now have the opportunity to add it.
Get it done, Mr. Spielman.