Over the past few weeks, Zone Coverage has broken down the Minnesota Vikings post-draft roster by position group and taken a stab at which players will make the team.
Today’s focus: Offensive Linemen
The Vikings improved mightily last season as an offensive line unit, allowing the seventh-fewest sacks and blocking for the seventh-most rushing yards. With the retirement of right guard Joe Berger, many thought the Vikings would attempt to land a marquee free agent or first-round draft pick to fill the gap, but in terms of acquisitions, they settled for a journeyman swing lineman and a second-round tackle in the offseason.
Departures: Joe Berger, Jeremiah Sirles
Additions: Tom Compton, Colby Gossett, Brian O’Neill, Chris Gonzalez
Returning: Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Rashod Hill, Mike Remmers, Riley Reiff, Cornelius Edison, Danny Isidora, Aviante Collins, Dieugot Joseph, Cedrick Lang, Storm Norton
FOUR LIKELY STARTERS: Riley Reiff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers
There’s little doubt that, if healthy, there will be four returning starters on the Vikings offensive line — an improvement in continuity from the prior year when Minnesota virtually cleaned house and overhauled the position. Tackles Reiff and Remmers were among the best in the NFL at not allowing sacks, while center Elflein and guard Easton were effective in space to help with the screen game. The latter two should only improve with another year under their belt.
The only question might be where Remmers plays. If he stays at tackle, where he’s played most of his career, the Vikings will need to find a starting right guard. If the team elects to switch him to guard, where they’ve been experimenting, then they’ll need to find a starter at tackle.
THE SECOND TIER: Tom Compton, Rashod Hill, Danny Isidora, Josh Andrews
Your fifth starting lineman might be in this group.
Compton, a guard, was brought over from Chicago, joining his fourth team in four years. He’s started 16 career games and knows Kirk Cousins well from his time in Washington. Hill, a tackle, started seven games a season ago and got some first-team reps at the Vikings’ second round of OTAs. Isidora, a guard, made one start as a rookie last year but should have upside. Andrews was snatched from the Philadelphia practice squad after the Super Bowl and has a relationship with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
None are flashy, but the Vikings clearly believe that one of them can get the job done.
THE DRAFT PICKS: Brian O’Neill, Colby Gossett
Could one of the rookies surge to the front of the pack, perhaps, and snag the fifth starter spot? O’Neill is a second-round pick who may need a year of seasoning before he can play meaningful reps at tackle, though he possesses incredible athleticism for the position. Gossett, a guard out of Appalachian State, put four years of solid play on tape in college, but the step up in class to the NFL could be startling.
There should be hope, however, that these two can be part of the team’s future plans even if they don’t see much time in Year 1.
THE REST: Aviante Collins, Chris Gonzalez, Cornelius Edison, Dieugot Joseph, Cedrick Lang, Storm Norton
The Vikings usually keep nine offensive linemen, and since we’ve already addressed 10 players above, there may have to be an injury, surprise cut or outstanding preseason performance by one of these six for them to make the roster.
Collins played 28 snaps last season as a rookie and could stand a chance. Edison has the flexibility to play center, which could be important since the Vikings lost one of their center options to retirement in Berger.
The rest may be hoping for a practice squad invite.
Making the roster: Riley Reiff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers, Rashod Hill, Danny Isidora, Tom Compton, Brian O’Neill, Colby Gossett
Released: Aviante Collins, Chris Gonzalez, Cornelius Edison, Dieugot Joseph, Cedrick Lang, Storm Norton, Josh Andrews