Vikings Sign G Dakota Dozier, Two From AAF

Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing (USA Today Sports)

The Minnesota Vikings made their second addition of the week to their offensive guard depth, signing former New York Jets guard Dakota Dozier to a one-year deal on Thursday.

After re-signing Brett Jones on Monday, Dozier gives the Vikings two 27-year-olds with starting experience to compete at left guard, likely along with a rookie from the upcoming draft.

Dozier, a former fourth-round pick out of Furman, worked in New York with Minnesota’s new offensive line coach Rick Dennison, who was the Jets’ run-game coordinator. Dennison met with Dozier during his visit to the Vikings’ facility and got behind the signing.

“Just had a great time with him [in New York],” said Dozier on a conference call Friday. “The way he carried himself, the way he coaches players, I really enjoyed that method. The way he coaches guys on the field, corrections in the meeting room, just really got a good vibe from him.”

Dozier got more than 25 percent of snaps in just one game in 2018, playing left guard in Week 13 against the Titans. The previous two seasons he saw the field mostly at right guard with five starts between 2016-17.

Isolating just the games in which Dozier played 30 percent or more of offensive snaps, his best season analytically came in 2016 when he ranked 18th amongst guards in Weeks 15-17, per Pro Football Focus. In 2017 he played the better part of four games and ranked 72nd league-wide for those four weeks. Finally, his 2018 start was ranked 57th out of all guards in Week 13.

Dozier also dabbled at fullback for the final four weeks of 2018, playing 21 snaps in the backfield after some collaboration with Dennison and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.

Could it be a precursor for a sub-package Vikings fans will see in 2019?

“Didn’t have a fullback on the roster,” said Dozier. “Tried to do some two-back formations instead. [Bates] and Dennison reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we want you to try and do this.’ Got to work that week and started learning the formations I needed to know.

“It was definitely a little bit different at times, but I enjoyed helping the team as best I could.”

Alliance acquisitions

The Vikings weren’t done roster-building this week as they acquired two players from the San Antonio Commanders of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football league.

Minnesota signed safety Derron Smith and cornerback Duke Thomas to their 90-man roster, giving them some additional depth in the secondary. Smith was a former Cincinnati Bengals sixth-round pick out of Fresno State who played primarily as a special-teamer with the Bengals, though he did see the field for 102 defensive snaps in 2016. Thomas, out of Texas, bounced around four NFL rosters before landing in the AAF.

Smith was the highest-graded defensive player in the AAF for his work at safety. With Andrew Sendejo now in Philadelphia, there could be room for him on the 53-man roster.

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