On Thursday, Pro Football Focus released an analysis of the weakest positions in the NFL by team. For example, the “Chiefs quarterbacks” or “Rams interior defensive line” would be among the league’s best positions by team in this spirit.
But this is the opposite — the most embarrassing bunches in the business.
Regrettably, the Vikings interior offensive line made the dubious cut. Brian O’Neill can be left off this grouping as he plays right tackle for Minnesota and is a terrific offensive lineman.
The rest? Well, the verdict is still out. PFF found 10 positions leaguewide that signify the worst of the worst. As another example, the Jacksonville Jaguars tight end group is among the league’s worst. Tyler Eifert is the only tight end on the Jaguars roster that anyone has ever heard of — and even he isn’t very good.
So, that’s where the Vikings stand during the third week of free agency, about four weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft. Holders of a toe-curling interior offensive line.
Here is what PFF said of the bunch:
“Unfortunately for Minnesota, this is not a new issue. The collective pass-blocking grade for the Vikings’ interior offensive line ranked second-worst in 2018, behind only the Arizona Cardinals. The unit jumped to third-worst the following year before putting up a 34.2 grade in 2020 that fell short of any team in the past three years combined. With the release of Riley Reiff at left tackle, there’s now a chance that Ezra Cleveland could kick outside to left tackle if the Vikings don’t add another player at the spot. That only further weakens the interior. Garrett Bradbury, Kyle Hinton, Dru Samia, Dakota Dozier and Mason Cole would make up the interior depth if Cleveland does move to tackle. That’s not a group the Vikings should feel very confident about.“
In fairness to general manager Rick Spielman and his Vikings, there is plenty of time to disenroll from this list. The team could sign Trai Tuner and Forrest Lamp tonight — and boom — the offensive line isn’t so cringeworthy. But nothing of the sort has happened in 2021 as of yet.
Too, the Vikings sent a 2021 6th-round draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for center-guard, Mason Cole. If Cole is a startable commodity, then Minnesota merely needs a left tackle to field a competent offensive line. Cole didn’t perform all that great in 2020 (54.4 PFF grade), and men don’t generally join the Vikings and start turning into pass-protection savants. Anything is possible, though. Usually, the Vikings try some type of piecemealed offensive-line solution — and it flops.
The last recourse is the NFL draft. The Vikings have 10 picks throughout the event. In theory, they could snag a couple of starting offensive linemen, but that strategy leaves a lot to chance. Spielman owns the 14th overall pick and might select a lineman such as Rashawn Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker, or Penei Sewell if those men fall into the Vikings lap.
If no further efforts are enacted to fix the interior offensive line, the Vikings will land themselves on lists like this, year after year.