With the NFL draft rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at the four worst position groups for the Minnesota Vikings and how they can be fixed.
By Jordan Wright
For this article, I averaged the player grades from Pro Football Focus for each position. All players who are on the roster and saw the field last season (therefor given a player grade by PFF) were taken into account. The averages also factor additions and subtractions to the roster, so for example Mike Wallace’s grade doesn’t affect the wide receiver’s overall average, while Alex Boone’s player grade will be factored into the offensive guard’s average.
Coming in at number four is the offensive guard position. Even including Alex Boone (who’s player grade is the second highest of the group), the guard position has an average grade of only 66.28. Without context, an average grade doesn’t give us much information. With that in mind, I took a look at the other teams around the league and averaged their offensive guards’ player grades to give us a good idea of just where the Vikings are in the larger picture.
The Vikings’ grade of 66.28 ranks 13th in the league, which is honestly a lot higher than I anticipated. I believe that says a lot about this team, as one of their lowest ranked positions is still in the top half of the league. The Vikings rank higher than teams like the Denver Broncos (62.96), New England Patriots (59.72), and Seattle Seahawks (43.65).
So how can the Vikings improve the guard position? My honest assessment is that the Vikings don’t need to do anything. With the addition of Alex Boone, the Vikings will have plenty of competition at the guard position. Boone should slide into the left guard position, allowing Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris to compete for the right guard position.
Also, if John Sullivan comes back at full strength, there is a chance the Vikings move Joe Berger to guard. If we were to include Berger’s player grade of 89.1 with the rest of the guards, the average moves up to 70.84, which would be good for 10th in the league.
If the Vikings have their hearts set on drafting an offensive guard in the top half of the draft, there are a few prospects who should be available to them.
Cody Whitehair from Kansas State is generally regarded as the best guard in the draft. A four-year starter at tackle for the Wildcats, Whitehair is better at run blocking and has the aggression that Zimmer is looking for in his offensive linemen. The Vikings will need to grab Whitehair in the first round, as he will almost certainly be gone by the time the Vikings pick in the second.
Germain Ifedi from Texas A&M is another college tackle that projects as a guard at the next level. Ifedi may not have the aggression of Whitehair, but he should be better in pass protection. Ifedi may need a year or two to reach his potential, and might therefore be available to the Vikings in the second round.
Joshua Garnett from Stanford did not get much playing time his first few years in college because there was incredible talent ahead of him on the depth chart. However, Garnett earned the starting gig his senior year and went on to win the Outland Trophy which is given to the top interior offensive lineman. With power and a nasty streak that allows him to be a tremendous run blocker, Garnett will need to improve his pass protection to become a quality starter in the NFL. Garnett projects as a second or third round draft pick.
Think you can predict the three position groups that are rated lower than the offensive guards? Let me know your guess by e-mail (facebook.com/skoljwright) or on Twitter (@skoljwright). Any guesses that accurately predict the positions and have them in the correct order will win a Vikings themed prize!), Facebook (