By Jordan Wright
Last week, we took a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver depth chart. If you happened to miss the article, you can find it on Facebook through the web address that’s listed below.
So far there haven’t been too many question marks about the Vikings’ depth charts. We all know Teddy is going to be the starting quarterback, Adrian is going to be the starting running back, and we have a pretty good idea who the fullback, tight ends and wide receivers will be. However, this week we take a look at the offensive line, and there are question marks aplenty.
At left tackle, Matt Kalil will be given one more year to prove he’s capable of protecting Teddy Bridgewater. If he has another sub-par season, the Vikings will once again be in the market for one of the most important positions on the team. Entering his second season, T.J. Clemmings will likely be Kalil’s backup after starting at right tackle last year.
Alex Boone will get every opportunity to be the team’s starting left guard after signing a 4 year, $26.8 million contract this offseason. Boone had a down year in San Francisco last season, earning a 65.0 player grade by Pro Football Focus (38th in the league), but he will look to bounce back in 2016.
The center position is truly up for grabs. Last year’s starter Joe Berger had a phenomenal season, grading out as PFF’s second best center in the league with a player grade of 89.1. John Sullivan will be coming back from injury and will be in the mix to start. If both players are healthy, Sullivan will likely get the start, sending Berger back to being the team’s primary backup on the inside of the line.
Right guard is another position that is anybody’s guess at this point. Brandon Fusco was looking like an ascending player on the offensive line, but a move from right to left guard last season saw a significant drop in his game. Meanwhile, Mike Harris was moved from tackle to guard and played well last season. The two will be battling it out, with the loser likely ending up behind Joe Berger in the backup rotation.
Right tackle, just like center and right guard, will be one of the hottest position battles in training camp. Andre Smith Jr. was brought in to compete with Phil Loadholt, who is coming back from successive season-ending injuries. Both of these players were, at one point, considered among the best right tackles in the league. However, both of these players have questions marks attached to them now.
The Vikings also have some young players who they have high hopes for. At tackle, Jeremiah Sirles, Austin Shepherd and Carter Bykowski are all players who have shown potential and will be hoping for a shot at playing time. Nick Easton, Zac Kerin, Isame Faciane and Willie Beavers play on the interior of the line and will be making a push for playing time as well.
In total, the Vikings have 16 offensive linemen on the roster. By the time the regular season rolls around, the Vikings will need to whittle that number down to eight or nine. The offensive line will be the key to the Vikings offense, and with a new position coach and all the competition that is sure to occur this summer, the pieces might finally be in place to produce a productive, protective unit.