Investing premium picks in offensive linemen
If you took a quick skim of Vikings Twitter, the first suggestion you would see to help solve their blocking problem is to draft offensive linemen early and often.
Especially early in drafts, the Colts have lived up to this philosophy drafting three starters (Anthony Costanzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly) in the first round dating back to 2011.
The biggest addition here has been Nelson, who Indianapolis took with the sixth overall pick last April. Although there is a myth that teams shouldn’t take a guard with a top-10 pick, Nelson was a special kind of athlete coming out of Notre Dame.
Just as he did with the Fighting Irish, Nelson has brought his toughness to the offensive line and even played a big role in stopping Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney in the Colts’ Wild Card victory last weekend.
For the Vikings, adding offensive linemen early has been a deviation of their draft day strategy. Since Rick Spielman took over, Minnesota has drafted just one offensive lineman (Matt Kalil in 2012) in the first round.
The Vikings have actually only selected a total of three offensive linemen in the first round in the past 24 years.
The Kalil pick is a tale that taking a lineman in the first round isn’t bulletproof. However, last year’s draft indicated a trend that teams are getting more aggressive with getting help across the offensive line with Mike McGlinchey, Kolton Miller, Frank Ragnow, Billy Price, and Isaiah Wynn all coming off the board before Minnesota picked 30th overall.
In addition, this year’s draft class features 11 edge rushers/defensive linemen among the first 32 players on Jon Ledyard’s big board over at the Draft Network, compared to just five offensive linemen.
Like residents boarding up their houses before a hurricane hits, teams with weak offensive lines will have to be proactive in order to get top tier talent on their team, which means that aggressiveness will be key.