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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings countdown to free agency: Left tackles

By Matthew Coller

Whitworth

With the Super Bowl over, the next big NFL date is March 9, when the new league year begins and free agency opens. The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be active in free agency, so as we make our way toward the start of the signing period, we will go position-by-position, analyzing which free agents the Vikings could/should be interested in. We began with the quarterbacks, then went on to the running backs, then the wide receivers and now, the left tackles…

Desperate need

Heading into free agency, no position is more vital for the Minnesota Vikings to fix than left tackle. There is a chance than the Vikings will try to work out a low-risk, high-reward deal with Matt Kalil, but otherwise they will need to find a plug-and-play solution. Last season, TJ Clemmings ranked as the third worst at his position by Pro Football Focus standards. The only time the Vikings received decent play on the left side was when Jake Long briefly filled in before getting hurt. While it may seem like a dire situation, especially with the Vikings likely to turn toward a pass-happy offense under Pat Shurmur, the good news is they have the cap space to compete for the top free agent on the list. But, as you will see, there isn’t much depth at the position

Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati Bengals

Pro Football Focus rank: 2

Far and away the No. 1 tackle on the free agent market, the 6-foot-7 Pro Bowler has been among the league’s best at his position for a decade. Reports from Cincinnati media have indicated that the Bengals are making Whitworth their top free agent priority, but at 35 the concern league wide will be the length and guaranteed money of a potential deal. Considering cap room and need, the Vikings should be among the top bidders if the Bengals cannot keep Whitworth.

Riley Reiff, Detroit Lions

Pro Football Focus rank: 48 of 78

Reiff

Reiff spent the 2016 season playing right tackle, but if he hits the market, he might be seeking a left tackle position. The 28-year-old played his first four seasons on the left side before being shifted to the right because of the Lions’ selection of Taylor Decker in the first round of the ’16 draft. By PFF’s grades, he was actually better on the left side than on the right, but never among the league’s elite. Solid play defending Sam Bradford’s blindside would be a major upgrade from what the Vikings had last year.

William Beatty, New York Giants

Pro Football Focus rank: N/A

Beatt61

After spending six years as a starter for the G-Men, Beatty rarely saw the field in 2016, appearing briefly in six games. At his best, Beatty was a consistent, middle-of-the-league tackle. Now 31 years old and having missed the entire 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle, it is questionable whether he could return to that level of play. If the Vikings get locked out of other top tackles, he might be a potential option.

Bradley Sowell, Seattle Seahawks

Pro Football Focus rank: 74 of 78

Sowell

Very few teams challenged the Vikings for the worst offensive line play in 2016, but the Seahawks were one of those teams. They shuffled left tackles in and out, eventually benching Sowell for a former basketball player George Fant who had never seen an NFL field. Sufficed to say, Sowell shouldn’t be a top target.

Tony Hills, New Orleans Saints

Pro Football Focus rank: N/A

Hills has a pretty remarkable career, but not in the way you might think. At 32 years old, he has played in the NFL since 2008 and started just one game. Logically speaking, there must be a reason teams continue to employ him. However, with almost no body of work, it’s hard to say whether he could be a solid backup or not.

Ben Ijalana, New York Jets

Pro Football Focus rank: 60 of 78

Photo credit: USA Today

A former second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, Ijalana saw the first significant action of his career and it didn’t go particularly well. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed eight sacks by himself, the second most in the NFL. It does not appear he has the quickness to hold off top edge rushers and likely won’t be a starter for very long.

The post Vikings countdown to free agency: Left tackles appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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