The fix-the-OL conversation for the Minnesota Vikings took a turn for the slimmer on Wednesday when guard Forrest Lamp signed with the Buffalo Bills.
Lamp was terrible in 2020, showcasing a 49.4 Pro Football Focus grade during the pandemic season. But that didn’t stop Vikings fans from thirsting for his services. Lamp was a 2nd-Round draft pick by the Los Angeles Chargers from Western Kentucky in 2017. He’s never produced at a high level in the NFL, yet Minnesotans seemed to believe that he could be fixed on a Mike Zimmer-led team.
For now, the Vikings are left with this best-case-scenario for an offensive line:
(LT) Rashod Hill, (LG) Mason Cole, ( C ) Garrett Bradbury, (RG) Ezra Cleveland, (RT) Brian O’Neill.
You can stop groaning for a minute, though. The NFL draft takes place in three weeks, and the Vikings figure to plug some OL roster holes during that event. Too, the team might still sign a free-agent guard or two, although the list of competent offensive linemen is dwindling.
Here’s the best guards availble to the Vikings as of April 7th.
Like Lamp, Turner was a member of the Los Angeles Chargers last year. He absolutely stunk. His PFF grade — 34.8 — is stuff of horrors. Yes, even worse than Dru Samia and Dakota Dozier.
Turner was actually the second-to-worst guard in all of the land per PFF during 2020.
But Vikings enthusiasts still want him. He was quite good from 2014 to 2019 with the team that drafted him, the Carolina Panthers — consistently tallying a PFF score in the 60s and 70s each season.
Most consider his rotten 2020 campaign an outlier. If the Vikings believe they can turn his career around, Turner should be available for cheap.
Sleeping with the enemy.
Taylor has played for the Green Bay Packers since 2013. Now, he’s a free agent — one that most teams are not flocking. The Oklahoma State alumnus has missed 91% of all football games in the last two season to injury.
His stock is low.
When Taylor is upright, he is quite decent. He registered a 66.0 PFF grade during his last healthy season of 2018. Additionally, Taylor is a better pass protector than run-defense merchant. And the Vikings don’t have too many pass-protection savants on the roster.
Taylor should be affordable, as well.
A former 1st-Round talent from 2011, Carpenter is now a journeyman. The 32-year-old has played for the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons amid his career. He joined the league the same year Christian Ponder became a Vikings 13 spots down the draft ladder.
The 10-year man out of Alabama certainly isn’t a Pro Bowl attendee, but he is a better guard than Samia or Dozier. His PFF last season was 56.1. So, you know, meh.
Easton is familiar. He was a Viking for two seasons — the final one took him to the NFC Championship in 2017. During that campaign, Easton was somewhat effective. He played 67% of all offensive snaps in 2017 while compiling a 57.5 PFF score.
Easton is another player in which his pass-blocking is more commendable than his run-bocking.
Rumors state that Easton “turned down” the Vikings for a free-agent deal, so this one might not be real at all. However, Easton is versed with the franchise.
General Manager Rick Spielman might sign one of these men, somebody entirely different, a couple of them — or none at all. The Vikings have 10 picks to use in the 2021 NFL Draft, the second-most leaguewide.
They will be forced to “hope and pray” on young prospects if Spielman makes no more OL moves.