Who will make up the starting five on the offensive line?
It would be nice if the Vikings had just one spot to worry about on the offensive line, but that’s just not how they operate.
Minnesota has struggled to field a competitive blocking unit for a majority of the past decade and after seeing several important games sabotaged by an inability to stop a pass rush, the Vikings need to figure it out heading into this year.
Gary Kubiak stated earlier this offseason that the best five guys would make up the starting offensive line, so there’s a good chance that position doesn’t matter. But what would that entail?
The only virtual locks heading into next season are right tackle Brian O’Neill and center Garrett Bradbury. O’Neill has continued to blossom into an elite cornerstone on the outside while Bradbury experienced an inconsistent rookie season in 2019. But what about the rest of the line?
That’s where things get interesting. The Vikings will be dealing with Riley Reiff’s $13.2 million cap hit this season, but that doesn’t mean his roster spot is safe.
Minnesota added Ezra Cleveland in this year’s draft and many feel he’s the heir apparent to Reiff at left tackle. If Reiff isn’t performing well during camp, it’s possible that the Vikings could cut him and create $11 million in cap space.
The problem is the Vikings might need Cleveland to line up at guard. Josh Kline was cut this offseason, leaving a starting spot at right guard open and with Pat Elflein struggling mightily at left guard, both spots have been declared wide open this offseason.
Cleveland would qualify under the criteria of the “best five offensive linemen”, but that still leaves the right guard spot.
Elflein could compete there, but it’s unlikely Minnesota wants to try him out at another position. Dru Samia also figures to be in the mix, but he is an unknown after basically spending last season as a “redshirt”.
No matter what they decide, the Vikings need to figure out their offensive line heading into 2020. If not, they might just be doing the same things and expecting a different result.