It’s that time of year where a team is loaded up on talent at many positions. Sadly, not all of those players will go on to make the 53 man roster or the practice squad. This the the fourth installment in the Minnesota Vikings position battle series and is all about the offensive linemen!
Let’s take a look at the tight ends currently on the roster:
- #59 – Zac Kerin
#60 – Jeff Baca
- #61 – Joe Berger
- #62 – Vladimir Ducasse
- #63 – Brandon Fusco
- #65 – John Sullivan
- #66 – David Yankey
- #67 – Mike Remmers
- #68 – Kevin Murphy
- #71 – Phil Loadholt
- #72 – Matt Hall
- #74 – Charlie Johnson
- #75 – Matt Kalil
- #76 – Pierce Burton
- #78 – Antonio Richardson
- #79 – Austin Wentworth
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these guys:
Zac Kerin is a center who was an undrafted free agent by the Minnesota Vikings. While he is inexperienced, there is still a lot unknown about him going into this season. He’s fighting for the backup center job behind John Sullivan or a spot on the practice squad this year.
Jeff Baca was a 6th round draft pick last year. He showed some good effort last season and could fight for a backup job or possibly even a starting job since the left guard spot should be an open competition. Either way, he’s a man to watch to training camp and preseason.
Joe Berger has been a mainstay with the Minnesota Vikings. The former Michigan Tech Husky is a great backup guard or center, depending on the team’s needs at the time. The team signed him back on the cheap, so he could be a valuable asset this year.
Vladimir Ducasse was a flop with the New York Jets, but will hope to rekindle his career in Minnesota. He will face tough competition for one of the guard spots on the team if he can play up to his potential during training camp and preseason.
Brandon Fusco really came into his own last year. He was part of one of the most dominating run blocking tandems in the NFL. Since this is the final year on his rookie contract, the Vikings would be wise to lock him up to a long term deal ASAP.
John Sullivan has been one of the best centers in the NFL for the past several years. He should be able to lock down the starting center job for the team pretty easily. It would be surprising to see him unseated this preseason for the gig.
David Yankey was a 5th round draft pick in this year’s draft. Since he’s a rookie, he shouldn’t be expected to take a starting role immediately, but he could definitely fight hard enough to earn a role on the team and fight for a starting job.
Mike Remmers has bounced around the league a bit. He’s played for the Broncos, Buccaneers, and Chargers before joining the Vikings after an injury sidelined him. Remmers has only played in one NFL game, but could see that role increased if impressive enough.
Kevin Murphy is one of the guys that has been waived and signed by the Vikings that it is hard to keep track if he is on the roster or not. He’s a huge man at 6’7″ and 295 pounds, but will need more than sheer size and power to be on the 53 man roster.
Phil Loadholt really broke out of his shell last year. He limited his penalties and showed off his ability to be a road grading right tackle. It should be nearly impossible for a player to unseat him for the job barring a strange circumstance.
Matt Hall is another undrafted rookie out of Belhaven. He has humongous size since he stands 6’9″ tall and weighs in at 323 pounds. He is a real wild card in this race because it is hard to know what to expect from him at the NFL level.
Charlie Johnson has been disappointing ever since he arrived in Minnesota. He seems to struggle a lot in pass protection. But if he can work on correcting that, he could help solidify what is otherwise a fantastic offensive line.
Matt Kalil was the #4 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Expectations for him are high, but he’s dealt with a lot of injuries and inconsistent play next to him. If he can stay healthy, he should be able to prove himself as a top NFL left tackle.
Pierce Burton is another undrafted rookie that the Vikings have brought into camp. He is an offensive tackle from Ole Miss that doesn’t have the size of some of the other guys competing for the position, but could still find himself in the hunt for a spot.
Antonio “Tiny” Richardson is an undrafted offensive tackle from Tennessee. He is a mountain of a man who several draft experts had as a third round talent at the draft. An injury really hurt his stock, but if he’s healthy, he could be a huge steal for the team.
Austin Wentworth is a guard from Fresno State. He went undrafted, but should really be competing for a job on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. He showed a lot of potential in one of the best NCAA offensive lines in 2013. He’ll be one to watch in camp.
Here are the players I see making the 53 man roster:
- Matt Kalil
- Phil Loadholt
- Antonio Richardson
- Charlie Johnson
- Brandon Fusco
- David Yankey
- Joe Berger
- Jeff Baca
- John Sullivan
Analysis of My Prediction
I had to group the entire offensive line together because so many people on can play multiple positions. For example, Johnson can play guard or tackle and Berger can play center and guard. That is the kind of versatility that will help both those guys make the 53 man roster. The entire starting offensive line is back from last year, and I expect them all to make the roster. Along with that, I see Antonio Richardson being the swing tackle and with Johnson as the emergency backup. I see a similar situation at center with John Sullivan holding down that spot and Joe Berger acting as the backup there. Rookie David Yankey and Jeff Baca both will act as backup guards. Baca isn’t a given to make the roster at this point, but I think that a good preseason could make him a guy that the Minnesota Vikings can’t risk not keeping.