Since Bryant McKinnie was sent packing by the Vikings today the time has come to get to know the frontrunner for the left tackle position in Charlie Johnson. Two things before we get started. 1) It was just revealed that he failed his physical, so you backers who felt the Vikings were idiots for cutting him can take another step back. 2) The Vikings clearly want to wash their hands clean of McKinnie quickly. While it’s impossible to forget your left tackle of basically the last decade, #74 now belongs to Johnson.
What’s to love about Johnson is that for 5 years he was one of Peyton Manning’s favorite offensive linemen. He also offers versatility being able to play both guard and tackle. Another one of his strengths is being trustworthy with coaches always giving a full effort, something McKinnie rarely did.
What’s not too spectacular on Johnson is his athleticism. Last season protecting Manning’s blindside he gave up six sacks. That’s a high number for someone who knows defensive schemes better than any other quarterback and has one of the quickest releases in the game. He also is small for an offensive tackle, which may allow dominant defensive ends such as Julius Peppers to overpower him. Playing 3-years at Oklahoma State as a tight end should also tell you that there’s not much more room on his frame to add bulk.
We’ll see how this goes for Johnson. The deck was stacked against him coming into the league as a 6th round pick. Since then he’s started 54 games, won a Super Bowl ring and protected a first ballot Hall of Famer. Now comes the task of replacing McKinnie, which is surely a challenge that Johnson will welcome.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig