Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Should the Vikings move Joe Berger to guard?

By Matthew Coller

When the Minnesota Vikings released guard Brandon Fusco, they immediately shot to the top of everyone’s list to sign the best free agent guards – players like Kevin Zeitler, Ronald Leary and TJ Lang. But we may have already seen the Vikings’ solution at right guard.

Center Joe Berger moved to guard in Weeks 15 and 16 when Fusco went down with an injury and was an instant upgrade in both pass protection and the running game. Against the Green Bay Packers, Berger often went toe-to-toe with Mike Daniels, a dominant defensive tackle, and handled him well. Here is one example of Berger packing a punch off the snap to create a hole for Jerick McKinnon.

With Berger at guard, McKinnon carried the ball 14 times for 62 yards and Matt Asiata added six rushes for 34 yards for an average of 5.1 Yards Per Carry between the two backs. For the entire season, the Vikings averaged 3.2 YPC, dead last in the NFL. Certainly there are many factors that affect a stat like that over just two games, but a review of the game film revealed that Berger was effective in mitigating Daniels’ ability to stuff runs and pressure the quarterback.

Shuffling the 34-year-old linemen to guard would call upon the Vikings to either stick with Nick Easton at center in 2017 or find a replacement in the draft or free agency. Easton was serviceable as a fill-in, but struggling mightily in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus’s metrics, ranking 36th out of 38 qualifying centers.

Two centers in the top 15 by PFF ratings, J.C. Tretter of Green Bay and Arizona’s A.Q. Shipley and are Unrestricted Free Agents.

In the draft, centers are rarely taken in the first round, which could open the Vikings up to picking a starter with their second-round pick. Players like Ohio State center Pat Elfein and LSU’s Ethan Pocic are being touted as Day 1 starters.

Risk is involved in placing a rookie into the starting lineup of a team desperate to fix its offensive line, but the reward comes in the form of salary cap space. With both left and right tackle open, moving Berger to guard and signing/drafting a center would be much cheaper than paying one of the top guards in the ballpark of $8-$10 million per year, as is the expected price. It would allow the Vikings to spend that type of money on a talented free agent tackle like Rick Wagner, who will be one of the most sought-after players in free agency, or trade for a tackle with a monster contract like Jason Peters.

Moving Berger to guard couldn’t be the only move on the interior line if the Vikings chose that path. Because of his age, they would still have to add a just-in-case guard. Still, it might prove a more efficient option than pouring cash into top guard free agents.

The post Should the Vikings move Joe Berger to guard? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>