In an interview with several Vikings media members at his home in Kentucky, Mike Zimmer indicated that he believes veteran lineman Mike Remmers will ultimately be at guard when the 2018 season kicks off. Remmers primarily played tackle last season, as he had most of his career. But Remmers also kicked inside multiple times, including the entire playoff run, due to a myriad of injuries on the Vikings’ line. Zimmer seemed confident that Remmers can transition permanently.
“Mike’s really smart,” Zimmer told Vikings.com. “You know, footwork-wise and technique-wise it’s a little different, things happen a little faster, you’re not setting as far back on your pass protections. I think Mike is a very, very aware player. He can see the combination blocks and come off on the linebacker very quickly and understand those things, so I thought that was a good part of his game, and hopefully it will continue.”
Based on what we saw in spring, it appears that Remmers will start at right guard with Rashod Hill at right tackle. Hill started nine games last season, two in the playoffs, with mixed results. The reports out of minicamp, however, were promising. Hill took most of the first team reps and has evidently shown to be in better physical condition.
While fans may balk at that combination on the right side, it appears to be the Vikings’ best option. Remmers may ultimately be a better guard than tackle. At times last year, he seemed a step too slow to mirror quick pass rushers. At guard, he could better utilize his strength and ability to move to the second level. Hill, on the other hand, is a bigger question. He looked promising at times in 2017, but at others looked like a revolving door. He will require a considerable step up in play to earn fans’ confidence.
Perhaps the bigger story from this is the apparent distance between rookie Brian O’Neill and a starting job. O’Neill presumably earned a second-round pick to eventually be a major contributor at either tackle. Thus far, he has not seen much consideration as a first-teamer. As such, the expert opinion that he would require considerable time to season and add weight is coming to fruition.
In the meantime, fans will have to hope the average Viking line from a year ago makes enough of a leap to keep Kirk Cousins consistently upright. For what it is worth, it will require strong development from three of five starters. Hill, Pat Elflein and Nick Easton all showed flashes as young talents a season ago. But there were also plenty of holes in their respective games. Plus, Easton and Elflein are coming off significant ankle injuries that required surgery.
If nothing else, a full training camp with an established first group could be a major step for this organization. It has been a few years since that has been the case.