It is no secret that come draft day, the Vikings will be after offensive linemen. After watching elite pass rushers decimate their line in the playoffs, the need for more good linemen is clear. The Vikings plugged other holes including quarterback and defensive tackle in free agency. They left the offensive line more or less the same, however.
The 2017 group kept the quarterback relatively clean right up until playoff time. As such, it seems they are a young stud or two away from making the leap into elite status.
When you look at the outlook of the line, a few spots are settled without question, i.e. Pat Elflein at center and Riley Reiff at left tackle. Mike Remmers has the ability to play both right tackle and guard. Nick Easton is back from injury and played the guard position well previous to his exit. The Vikings also feel they have a few potential diamond in the roughs with Rashod Hill, Danny Isidora and Aviante Collins.
However, with Joe Berger announcing his retirement, there is a hole at guard, assuming Remmers stays at tackle. The Vikings have been linked to a lot of potential first round picks such as Billy Price, Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez. All three were elite collegiate players and offer different traits the Vikings could use.
Price has major experience playing both guard and center and is one of strongest and toughest linemen in this draft. He can lose pad level from time to time, but once he latches on, it is over. He is also a great leader and has immediate chemistry with former teammate Elflein.
Wynn is an athletic freak. The pairing with Elflein could allow the Vikings to offer a ton of creative looks. Wynn had a dominant season for Georgia this past year, mostly at tackle. He figures to play guard in the NFL, however, given his size. The addition of Wynn would allow the Vikings to anchor one of the more athletic lines in football.
With Hernandez, he is all about strength and nastiness. The Vikings do not have many linemen with a mean streak attitude like Hernandez does. While he may not be best suited for a zone scheme, his pure power is enticing. He wants to take the will away from his opponents.
If the Vikings use their first round pick, these are the names they could be looking at to draft. Wynn and Hernandez may not be available due to some line needy-teams in front of them. However, with the pectoral injury that Price suffered, he is the most likely available guy at 30. Price would help solidify the guard position that the Vikings badly need to upgrade.
Even if the Vikings take a linemen at 30, it appears likely that they will take at least one more in the draft. One can never have too many good offensive linemen, and the Vikings know first hand how hard it can be to replace them when they go down with injury. Heading into 2018 with a cast of Elflein, Reiff, Remmers, Easton, Isidora, Hill and likely a few rookies has the making of a very solid, but not elite group just yet.
Consistent guard play and Remmers’ positioning will be topics of conversation this offseason. Assuming development of Elflein and whatever rookies the Vikings bring in, the foundation is there for a solid line for years to come. Whether that comes to fruition in 2018 will be another story.