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.
With the draft this week, it’s time to look at the worst position group for the Minnesota Vikings. If you recall, the previous three articles covered numbers four through two: offensive guard (66.28 average player grade), tight end (65.48) and linebacker (58.68). So that leaves us with one, the worst position group for the Vikings in 2015 was…(feel free to do a drum roll on the closest thing to you)… offensive tackle.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone, but offensive tackle was by far the Vikings worst position last season with an average player grade of only 43.68 which ranks 30th in the NFL. Matt Kalil was the highest rated starter for the Vikings, and he had a player grade of 46.9, placing him 46th in the league.
The front office knows they needed to improve the offensive line this offseason, and have already taken steps to do just that. Not only will Phil Loadholt be back from injury, the Vikings also brought in Andre Smith from Cincinnati for added competition. Matt Kalil is entering the last year of his contract, so this will be his last chance to prove he can play left tackle in the NFL. Last year’s starter at right tackle, T.J. Clemmings, was a rookie last season and should only get better as time goes on.
Bottom line is that the offensive tackle group should (needs) to be better in 2016. But have the Vikings done enough to ensure that happens?
If the Vikings are looking towards the draft to further improve the offensive line, they will have plenty of options throughout.
In the first round, it’s almost guaranteed that the top two tackles (Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley) will be gone in the top 10, and word around the NFL is the next two tackles (Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker) will also be drafted before the Vikings are on the clock. If any of those tackles fall to the Vikings, I think the Vikings should sprint to the podium to turn their name in. More than likely however, those four tackles will be gone. So what will that leave the Vikings?
Jason Spriggs from Indiana is second round possibility. Spriggs is a very good athlete and had a tremendous showing at the combine. His tape shows inconsistency, but a team will draft him based on the potential he has shown.
Germain Ifedi from Texas A&M looked destined to be the next great offensive lineman to come from A&M. However, he never really put it all together and failed to transition to left tackle in college. As a tackle, Ifedi needs to show better consistency, but he has the size and strength to be a productive right tackle in the NFL. Ifedi should realistically be a third or fourth round pick, but he will probably be drafted in the late first or early second round.
Joe Haeg from North Dakota State is an option later in the draft. The five time national champion has the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. However, his smaller lower body and the level of competition he faced in college will have him falling down draft boards. Haeg is a potential future starter at left tackle who could be drafted in the fourth or fifth round.
So there you have it. The four worst position groups on the Minnesota Vikings. Will the front office do enough in free agency and the draft to improve these positions? Will these positions remain as the worst on the team? Or will they improve and push other position groups down the list? Let me know what you think!
If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), on Twitter @skoljwright or on Facebook (facebook. com/skoljwright)