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Bleacher Report – Vikings

It’s a good year for the Vikings to be looking at linemen in the draft

By Matthew Coller

At the end of the biggest day at the NFL Combine for offensive linemen, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah declared the O-line class to be an impressive one. That’s good news for the Minnesota Vikings.

While the Vikings’ quarterback situation has dominated the headlines at the Combine, Minnesota’s brass is also there to find an impact player at No. 30 overall.

At the top of the list of needs for the Vikings is offensive line. While they showed improvement this year, there is a chance Joe Berger either retires or lands elsewhere in free agency and Mike Remmers may be a better fit at guard than tackle.

Before the Combine, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock released his top five interior offensive linemen and tackles. Here are his lists:

Interior OL

1. Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
2. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
3. James Daniels, Iowa
4. Will Hernandez, UTEP
5. Billy Price, Ohio State

Tackle

1. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
2. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
3. Connor Williams, Texas
4. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
T-5. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
T-5. Kolton Miller, UCLA

It’s very unlikely that the Vikings will be in the mix for Nelson or McGlinchey, but everyone else could be in play.

Will Hernandez said during his media session that he has met with the Vikings.

Last year it became clear that the offensive line’s identity will be shaped by the running style of Dalvin Cook. Following camp, the Vikings released Aaron Boone in favor of Nick Easton because of his athleticism and mobility.

“At UTEP we ran a pro-style offense, we did a little bit of everything,” Hernandez said. “Pulled a lot, did a lot of counter, hit some inside zone and outside zone, but that was more of my junior year when we had running back Aaron Jones…my last year, we focused more on gap scheme play.”

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks named Hernandez one of the biggest winners of Friday’s on-field workouts.

Brooks wrote:

“Hernandez clocked a solid 5.15 40 after pushing up 225 pounds 37 times on the bench press. He followed his fine performance in athletic testing with a flawless positional workout that showcased his quick feet and body control. Considering his sterling game tape and solid performance in Mobile, Hernandez has cemented his place as a Day 1 pick with an A+ workout at the combine.”

It would stand to reason the Vikings could be in the mix for Hernandez. The first guard taken in last year’s draft was at No. 58 overall. Two years ago, two interior O-linemen were selected in the first. In his NFL.com draft profile, Hernandez is listed as a first or second round prospect. The 6-foot-2, 348-pound linemen said he believes guard is a more valuable position than ever.

“I definitely think they are starting to value interior linemen more,” Hernandez said. “I’ve heard it from teams themselves. I think it’s starting to even out a little bit between tackle and guard. I’m glad it’s going on because the quarterback can not have pressure, but if it doesn’t have [a pocket] to step into, what’s the point?”

After Hernandez ran his 40-yard dash, Mayock called him a “Day-one starter.”

Kolton Miller, a gigantic tackle from UCLA who could be available late in the first round, was also one of Brooks’ winners for Friday’s events.

Brooks wrote:

“The former Bruin looked like a decathlete on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf while running through drills. The 6-9, 309-pounder breezed through the 40-yard dash in 4.95 seconds (with a remarkable 1.67-second 10-yard split), while also posting a 31.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-1 broad jump. Miller followed his dazzling athletic display with a strong positional workout where he exhibited outstanding movement skills and lateral quickness in drills.”

The Vikings could be looking for a long-term left tackle if they believe Riley Reiff would ultimately be better on the right side. Miller said on Thursday that he sees himself as a left tackle.

“It’s really hard to switch from one side to the other,” Miller said. “I’d say I’m more productive at left tackle because that’s where I took all the reps this year, but my redshirt freshman year I was interchanged right to left. In the 2016 season I started at right. I feel more comfortable at left right now.”

Two other prospects that had standout days on Friday were Texas’s Connor Williams, who ranked among the best linemen in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump.

“I believe my athleticism, I believe I move very well,” Williams said.

If the Vikings are looking for someone who is flexible with their position – at least for next year – Williams might be that player.

“Personally I feel like I’m a tackle, but I’m willing to play anywhere a team needs me,” Williams said.

Another potential option in the late first is Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn, who is described by NFL.com as, “a talented, technically sound block-winner with a demeanor that offensive line coaches will love.”

“Nowadays you get a lot of the quicker [defensive tackles], they aren’t just powerful, they are also quick…I feel like now they are looking for guards who are more athletic than probably in previous years,” Wynn said on Thursday.

The one player whose stock sunk on Friday was Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown, who posted one of the worst 40-yard dashes ever. With a lack of athleticism, he might not be a fit for the Vikings.

There will be all sorts of different options – including trading up for a QB – but if we learned anything Friday it’s that if Vikings decide to go with their most obvious need at 30, it appears highly likely a good O-line prospect will be available.

The post It’s a good year for the Vikings to be looking at linemen in the draft appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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