4. Pat Elflein – C
Elflein was drafted by the Vikings in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and he had a stellar rookie season. He came in and started 14 games for Minnesota last season and gave the team’s offensive line some much-needed toughness and a dash or two of nasty.
Unfortunately, Elflein fractured his ankle in the 2017 NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles and he also injured his shoulder during the regular season. He ended up having surgery to heal both injuries during the offseason and he had a lengthy recovery which caused him to miss the Vikings’ OTAs, training camp, and the entire preseason.
Elflein didn’t return until Week 3 of the 2018 season and he just didn’t look the same as he did during his rookie campaign.
He was routinely being pushed around and he didn’t play with the same level of nasty or the same toughness and power as he did during his rookie season. Elflein was a strength of Minnesota’s offensive line in 2017, but he was clearly a weakness last season.
Elflein deserves credit for working hard to come back into the fold. But it was pretty clear that he was rusty and he could’ve used the preseason work to get back into game shape. It’s easy to see Elfelin bouncing back in 2019 after having a complete offseason to prepare and get 100 percent healthy.