Another minute, another breaking news story!
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, former Detroit Lion offensive tackle/guard Riley Reiff plans on signing with the Minnesota Vikings. The nearly 6’6″ Reiff played his college ball at Iowa and was a first round pick in the 2012 draft and while he has spent most of his career playing as a guard, the word on the street is that the Vikings are bringing in Reiff to replace Matt Kalil at left tackle, a move that is a tad bit surprising but means that they don’t feel confident that they’re in the running for a left tackle that they’ve shown interest in this past week, Russell Okung.
Former Lions OT Riley Reiff plans to sign with Vikings , per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2017
Adding Reiff will help build up the right side of the offensive line, helping replace both Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris, who were let go by the Vikings last month. Especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the future of Joe Berger’s retirement, the move made a lot of sense. So, now really all the Vikes need to do is sign Russell Okung and they’ll have a much improved unit with Okung at left tackle, Alex Boone at left guard, Nick Easton (or Even Joe Berger at Center), Riley Reiff at right guard and either TJ Clemmings or the Vikings second round draft pick at left tackle.
Suddenly, the near panic that I exuded in my piece about Matt Kalil is abated a bit. It’s also now three p.m. central time, which means that the Vikings should be able to legally communicate with Russell Okung, so perhaps they can still end up with Okung and Reiff on roster, which would be huge. However, because of how this has been announced, I doubt that the Vikings will end up with Okung on roster, which is disappointing. Either way, we’ll have an announcement before long regarding his status, as he is sought after by a few teams (The Vikings, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks).
Reiff played left tackle for a year in 2013, after veteran Lions left tackle Jeff Backus retired. While I initially doubted that the Vikings plan is to re-convert Reiff to left tackle, it’s always good to know that the Vikings have a non-Clemmings option at the position. So, if the plan still is to bring in Russell Okung at left tackle, it makes sense to have some insurance at the position considering that Okung has had some injury laden seasons in his career. So, this move is a great one across the board and it shouldn’t end up costing the Vikings the arm and and leg that some of the other more “Marquee” guards or even re-signing Kalil would’ve.
Edit: For those of you that are interested in how Reiff ranked (As a left tackle) back after the 2013 season, here’s a quick write-up from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. While that’s not great, he did score two spots ahead of Matt Kalil (Who came in 22nd with an overall score of 64… Russell Okung? 21st… With an overall score of 65).
Riley Reiff (6’6”, 313 lbs, two seasons) gave up 34 quarterback hurries in 2013 and routinely displayed an inability to slide and shove speed-rushers up the field. His arm length, which was a point of contention for many for him coming out of Iowa, has proven to be an issue. Reiff often “caught” defenders coming right at him rather than punching and attacking.
An aggressive mauler in the run game, Reiff displays an ability to attack defenders that he doesn’t show in pass protection. He’s athletic enough and displays plenty of strength and agility by crossing the face of defenders when angling from the back side of outside zone runs. He will overrun plays at the second level and can bend a little too much at the waist, which causes some balance issues and allows defenders to disengage and make a play.
Reiff has a low ceiling at left tackle because of his physical limitations in pass protection. He will never be an elite pass-protecting tackle strictly because he doesn’t have the arm length to keep defenders from getting the edge on him consistently.
News appears to be breaking left and right, so… Stay tuned for more info!