The 2017 NFL Draft is six days away. With every team opening their training camps over the past week and finding out the 2017 season schedule on Thursday, teams are now in their final stages of preparation for the big weekend.
The Minnesota Vikings hope to use the draft to finish what they started in March’s free agency period and add talented players that can get them back into the playoffs. Nowhere on the roster does the team need more talented additions than their offensive line. When talk of reasons for the Vikings recession to 8-8 in 2016 after winning the division the previous year, the shortcomings of the offensive line has been right at the top.
Purple Update: Vikings pre-draft roster: running backs
Vikings’ Today: 2017 Pre-draft roster overview: quarterbacks
Vike’s Bite: Are the Vikings done in free agency?
2017 Free Agency: Recapping Minnesota’s moves during free agency
What’s Trending: Vikings’ pre-draft roster: offensive line
Offensive Line Roster (from left tackle to right tackle):
Riley Reiff*, Alex Boone*, Joe Berger*, Jeremiah Sirles*, Mike Remmers*, Nick Easton, Zac Kerin, T.J. Clemmings, Willie Beavers, Reid Fragel, Rashod Hill, Austin Shepard, Marquis Lucas
(*) – projected or incumbent starter
The Vikings gambled on another season of continuity and the hope of good health from the offensive line for 2016 and lost… badly. Injuries and underperformance were the theme of the season for this offensive line as they were forced to use eight different lineups throughout the season. Every starter missed at least one game in 2016.
T.J. Clemmings manned each of the tackle spots when Matt Kalil and Andre Smith went down with injuries and struggled for the second straight year. Brandon Fusco also struggled despite returning to his old right guard position and was released in the offseason. The only starters from 2016 likely to go into 2017 holding their spots are left guard, Alex Boone, and center, Joe Berger, who could swing over to right guard depending on what moves the team makes during the draft.
The Vikings added tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in free agency to replace Kalil and Smith. Despite these additions, one can be sure that the Vikings aren’t finished with this group yet. Though they’re capable starters, neither Reiff nor Remmers have been known as elite players at their respected positions.
Need (none; 1 — desperate; 10): 8 to 9
Chances Vikings draft an offensive lineman: Very High
The Vikings are still in search of talent talent to upgrade an offensive line that was downright inept at times last year. They may have addressed the tackle spots in free agency, but there’s still an opening at the right guard position. Center could possibly be open as well. Tackle is still not fully settled as there is still a lack of depth behind the new starters. One thing that is certain is that they will look to add talent to this group. The team has been tied to players such as Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney of Indiana, Temple’s Dion Dawkins, and Dorian Johnson from Pittsburgh in many analysts’ mock drafts.