2019 VIKINGS OL PROSPECTUS BY MICAH TWEETEN
TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION iii ROSTER 1 NFL DRAFT MY SOLUTION
INTRODUCTION Hello, Thank you for taking the time to read my prospectus - I will warn you, it can get boring or detailed if this isn’t your ‘thing’ that you love to read about. Unfortunately, the free agency portion was cut out for this version as it was finished post-free agency. You may still see a comment here or there about what my game plan would have been and you can still see my three realistic free agency targets in the My Solution portion. I hope that you enjoy it and learn more about some of our options on the line! Thanks, Micah Tweeten
iii | Introduction
WEâ€™RE GOING TO BE A PHYSICAL GROUP. IT STARTS [WITH THE OFFENSIVE LINE]. K E V I N ST EFANS KI, O F F E NS I V E COO RDINATO R
THE 2019 ROSTER
1 | Roster
Bold indicates 2018 starter. Asterisk indicates 2018 practice squad member.
Roster | 2
CORNELIUS EDISON POSITION: C 2018 STATS: 0 pressures given up (n/a), 0 sacks given up (n/a), 0 penalties (n/a) SYNOPSIS: A standout during the preseason, Edison spent the 2018 season on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. He’s a candidate to get moved up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster in 2019.
PAT ELFLEIN POSITION: C 2018 STATS: 33 pressures given up (48th of 51), 4 sacks given up (43rd), 7 penalties (46th) SYNOPSIS: Elflein was one of the worst centers in the NFL last season without a doubt. He routinely let pressure come straight up the middle, one of the hardest places for QB’s to dodge pressure (and a large part as to why Kirk never had enough time to process and throw the ball). But just because he struggled doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. Elflein performed well his rookie year, despite giving up the fifth most pressures in pass protection. Last year’s misstep was likely due to recovery from offseason surgeries and so the Vikings will need Elflein to step up in 2019.
3 | Roster
DANNY ISIDORA POSITION: G 2018 STATS: 11 pressures given up (52nd of 131), 2 sacks given up (70th), 1 penalty (26th) SYNOPSIS: Isidora was truly horrific in pass blocking last year, which explains why PFF had him graded in the bottom 10 of all 131 eligible guards. He did show some talent in run blocking, but Isidora will be on the cut line if he doesn’t take a big step forward in this offseason.
MIKE REMMERS POSITION: G/T 2018 STATS: 42 pressures given up (127th of 131), 7 sacks given up (125th), 8 penalties (124th) SYNOPSIS: Remmers couldn’t get out of his own way, committing penalties at an alarming rate. Remmers was bottom 10 in nearly every category relating to pass blocking last year at guard. It’s safe to say that the guard experiment with Remmers failed and failed miserably. As bad as Remmers was in pass protection, he was even worse in run blocking. Frequently, defenders were blasting through holes in the line that Remmers, Elflein, and O’Neill should have stopped, but it was clear Remmers was not a good scheme fit. Remmers is a perfect cut candidate with very little dead money that we could move on from to get ourselves nearly $6m in cap space.
Roster | 4
ADAM BISNOWATY POSITION: T/G 2018 STATS: 0 pressures given up (n/a), 0 sacks given up (n/a), 0 penalties (n/a) SYNOPSIS: After being cut twice during the 2018 training camp season by the Lions and the Panthers, Bisnowaty landed on the Vikings practice squad in October of 2018. He has versatility in his ability to play both tackle and guard.
AVIANTE COLLINS POSITION: T 2018 STATS: 0 pressures given up (n/a), 0 sacks given up (n/a), 0 penalties (n/a) SYNOPSIS: An athletic tackle out of TCU, Collins was unable to improve upon his 2017 season as the third-string tackle due to an elbow injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season. He has played both tackle spots and guard during the preseason and his limited season play time on the Vikings, and will look to be a decent versatile backup option should anyone go down with an injury.
5 | Roster
BRIAN O’NEILL POSITION: T 2018 STATS: 31 pressures given up (101st of 132), 0 sacks given up (1st), 4 penalties (66th) SYNOPSIS: A rookie in 2018, O’Neill was expected to have a year or two of growth and development before being able to step in as a reliable starter. Instead, O’Neill was a surprise bright spot on an otherwise poor offensive line. He became only the third rookie to not give up a sack in 400+ sacks, joining only Ryan Clady and Joe Thomas in that group. But despite not giving up any sacks, O’Neill gave up a below league average 31 pressures. He showed good promise in 2018, but needs to continue to build on that in order to be a reliable RT option for the Vikings.
RILEY REIFF POSITION: T 2018 STATS: 42 pressures given up (123rd of 132), 3 sacks given up (84th), 4 penalties (66th) SYNOPSIS: Reiff was yet again Reiff in 2018. Dependable and average in about every aspect of his play. He struggled a bit mid-season and was getting beat more frequently than normal, but that was likely due to a foot injury and his recovery. His cap hit is a little high given he’s not a top-tier tackle, but that’s the market price for a decent LT right now. He could be a cut candidate in 2020 when he has a lower dead cap hit.
Roster | 6
STORM NORTON POSITION: T 2018 STATS: 0 pressures given up (n/a), 0 sacks given up (n/a), 0 penalties (n/a) SYNOPSIS: Stormâ€™s lone game as an active member of the Minnesota Vikings went as youâ€™d expect: a grand total of 3 snaps. The 2017 and 2018 practice squad member looks to compete with positional versatility like Bisnowaty.
7 | Roster
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
9 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
INTRODUCTION TO THE DRAFT Every year, there are just shy of 100 offensive linemen that are (realistically) available for teams to select in the draft or sign as undrafted free agents. And while it would be great to have a scouting report for every single player, the fact of the matter is that not every player fits the Vikings’ schemes or what they are looking for physically and mentally from players. Instead of giving you every single player, most of which either lack the talent to play in the NFL or don’t fit the preference and/or schemes of the Vikings, I have a list of players that I believe would be the best fits for our blocking schemes and what we’ve looked for in the past. There are players that are more talented than some on this list, but simply don’t make the cut for that reason (i.e. Yodny Cajuste doesn’t fit a zone blocking scheme and Greg Little has serious motivation issues a la Matt Kalil, but both will likely be picked by the end of round two). Each scouting report includes basic info, a draft grade, strengths and weaknesses, a summary, a pro comparison (who they are similar to in the NFL stylistically and what caliber of player they would be if everything went right), and a projected range for where they will be drafted.
Mid to Late 1
Mid to Late 1
Early to Mid 2
Early to Late 2
Mid 2 to Early 3
Early to Mid 2
Mid 2 to Early 3
Late 1 to Mid 2
Late 2 to Mid 4
Early 3 to Early 5
Mid 3 to Late 4
Mid 4 to Mid 6
Late 5 to Mid 7
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 10
JONAH WILLIAMS POSITION: G COLLEGE: Alabama DRAFT GRADE: 9.51 (Top 10) STRENGTHS: Nearly flawless technique and stance allows for excellent balance and a sturdy anchor in pass protection. Takes excellent angles in pass protection and is able to turn back counters well due to his ability to frame blocks prior to contact. Hand placement and quickness is excellent and often allows for a strong first contact to create space in the running game. Shows quick feet and good pad level. High football IQ in recognizing stunts and blitzes. WEAKNESSES: Speed edge rushers create issues for him in pass protection due to length. Short arms will allow for lengthy edge rushers to initiate first contact. SUMMARY: Prototypical arm length and elite athleticism are the only two things holding him back from being considered an elite, top-5 or top-10 type tackle or guard (like Quenton Nelson was last year). Williamsâ€™ shorter arms and struggles against speed edge rushers would be best if he could be moved inward as an interior lineman. Since he struggles in deeper passing sets and has some power and ability to move bodies in run blocking, he would fit the Vikings likely move to a run-first, short to mid-level play action passing scheme under Stefanski and Kubiak. PRO COMPARISON: Shaq Mason PROJECTED ROUND: Mid to Late First Round (Picks 15-30)
11 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
13 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
CODY FORD POSITION: G/T COLLEGE: Oklahoma DRAFT GRADE: 9.37 (Mid-First) STRENGTHS: Incredibly athletic while maintaining a solid prototypical frame. Good mirror and getting out of stance quickly. Strong anchor and drives his feet well. Very strong hand strikes in both pass protection and run blocking. Strong desire to win each set and good power at the point of attack leads to a mauler-like mentality. Smooth athlete in space when getting to the second level. WEAKNESSES: Inconsistent, and often wasted, footwork in pass protection. Showed struggles at getting to the edge against speedy edge rushers. Inconsistent pad level could test his ability to get leverage. SUMMARY: Just a one year starter at the position, Ford will need some coaching up in regards to his footwork and inconsistent pad level, but shows a rare combination of physicality, athleticism, and fierce mentality for his frame. He could be good at tackle, but at guard is where he will shine most with his traits and could end up becoming an All-Pro at guard. He would bring the mauler mentality the Vikings have been missing on the line, while also being athletic enough to pull and get to the second level in their zone blocking scheme. PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Brooks PROJECTED ROUND: Mid to Late First Round (Picks 15-30)
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 14
JAWAAN TAYLOR POSITION: RT/G COLLEGE: Florida DRAFT GRADE: 9.36 (Mid-First) STRENGTHS: Quick feet and exceptional athleticism allow him to consistently set the edge well against speed rushers and also get into the second level where he is an elite blocker. Some of the best footwork in this class in pass protection. Incredible power in his hands when he connects and could have elite power if he reaches his potential by fixing his stance and getting more leverage. Doesnâ€™t always finish well, but always shows effort and physicality. WEAKNESSES: Poor hand technique means he is frequently late with his hands and allows defender to make first contact. Holding calls may be a serious issue in the NFL if he doesnâ€™t refine his hand placement. Can be too high in his stance which restricts the leverage he could get against edge rushers in the NFL. SUMMARY: Despite the need to improve his technique with his hands and pad level, Taylor looks to have the footwork, physicality, and athleticism necessary to succeed at the next level. His technique improved significantly in 2018 compared to 2017, and if he can make that improvement again in the first few years after being drafted, Taylor has the potential to become a high end right tackle for the Vikings. At the very least, he shows the necessary power, size, and athleticism to move inside to guard, either until Reiff is gone or if he fails at tackle. PRO COMPARISON: Morgan Moses PROJECTED ROUND: Early First Round (Picks 5-15)
15 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
CHRIS LINDSTROM POSITION: G COLLEGE: Boston College DRAFT GRADE: 9.05 (Late First) STRENGTHS: Aggressive run blocker who finishes his blocks well (he should be an very good run blocker in the NFL). Good initial burst out of his stance with solid pad level and bend. Times his hands well with a good pop, frequently beating his opponent in making first contact. Shows strength in his hands for run blocking. Footwork is pretty good in pass protection, although there are a few times that his footwork isn’t synced with the rest of his body. High IQ with a seasoned starter mentality. Very little technical flaws with his tape as a whole. WEAKNESSES: Lacks control while blocking in the second level as well as power at the point of attack in run blocking. He has less-than-ideal arm length and size for a guard in the NFL. SUMMARY: Lindstrom succeeded at Boston College in a run-heavy, play-action-oriented passing game similar to what we might expect in Minnesota this year with Kubiak and Stefanski. He’s a technically sound guard with very little flaws on tape - only his length and lack of pure power in the run game are what are preventing him from being a top end lineman in this draft. He’s about as close to a day one contributer that’s a sure thing as they come (he has a safe floor, but a low ceiling, meaning he will likely never be an All-Pro guard, but he should be between average to Pro-Bowl level for most of his career.) PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Scherff PROJECTED ROUND: Early to Mid-Second Round
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 16
17 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
DALTON RISNER POSITION: G/T COLLEGE: Kansas State DRAFT GRADE: 8.90 (Second) STRENGTHS: Physical lineman who is strong, aggressive, and downright nasty. Not afraid to get down and dirty in the trenches. Nearly elite strength at the point of attack and capable of pushing back any position. Mauler that continually looks for work and looks to win every rep. Topend hand placement and explosive punches are key to his success. Exceptional blocking at the second level and shows good athleticism in space. Incredibly intelligent lineman who picks up on nearly everything the defense is doing. Mirrors well in pass protection and has a solid anchor against more powerful rushers. WEAKNESSES: Pass protection footwork is a major concern and a big reason why he might be better off being moved inside. Frequent false steps led to struggles against speedy edge rushers. At times, he gets his pad level too high and with his lack of length, if his hand placement is off, it could be a concern (although his hand placement is almost never off). SUMMARY: Risner is the type of guard Speilman has typically targeted in the draft: athletic blocker in space who has the versatility to play multiple positions on the line and has some technical issues that need to be addressed in order to frequently succeed in the NFL. What Risner does that we donâ€™t have on the line right now is bring a physicality and nasty aggressiveness (without being a jerk like Alex Boone was). A move inward would benefit Risner and hide some of the footwork issues that he has that are more prevalent when he lines up at tackle. Risner looks to be tailor-made for a zone blocking scheme and would be a day one starter at guard (likely right guard). PRO COMPARISON: Justin Pugh PROJECTED ROUND: Mid-Second to Mid-Third Round
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 18
GARRETT BRADBURY POSITION: G/C COLLEGE: North Carolina State DRAFT GRADE: 8.88 (Second) STRENGTHS: Explosive blocker that uses his athleticism and intelligence to make big blocks in the second level. Showed strong and well-timed hand placement when blocking with good strength. Rarely beaten by power rushers, even if they are able to push him back slowly. Always looking for work and his experience as a starter is evident as he continually reads the defense and makes smart plays blocking key defenders. Fast feet allow for a quicker recover when he does get beaten on a block. WEAKNESSES: Needs to continue to build strength in order to move defensive players in run blocking and create space. Lacks the prototypical length desired for interior linemen. SUMMARY: Bradbury, a former tight end turned offensive lineman, excelled in the zone blocking scheme at North Carolina State, and itâ€™s the best fit for him the NFL too. He shows very little technical flaws on tape, while having the necessary athleticism to get in space and make key blocks. He is does lack length for an interior player (less than 33â€? arms), but his hand placement and ability to get leverage have helped hide that in college. It may be more of an issue in the pros, but solid technique and some strength building might help him avoid getting overpowered in the NFL. Bradbury would be a day one starter on the interior offensive line, whether at center (moving Elflein to guard) or at guard. PRO COMPARISON: Weston Richburg PROJECTED ROUND: Early to Mid-Second Round
19 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
DAVID EDWARDS POSITION: T COLLEGE: Wisconsin DRAFT GRADE: 8.87 (Second) STRENGTHS: A great athlete with solid length to help in protecting the edge. Exceptional run blocker with an elite and explosive first step that helps him create push on the line. Strong hands allow him to easily move defenders in gaps in the run game. Takes smart angles when moving to the second level. Large range, especially in outside zone runs. Aggressive and competitive player with a high football IQ. WEAKNESSES: Footwork in pass protection can be slow with false steps at times which results in getting beat outside by speedier edge rushers. Needs more bend in his stance in order to help with getting better leverage and positioning in pass protection. Lacks necessary hand placement in pass protection and is often late with his hands leading to too many misses. SUMMARY: A former-TE turned OT that has some work to do in refining his technical abilities, Edwards shows the necessary power and athleticism for success at the NFL level. Heâ€™s a more powerful, runblocking version of Brian Oâ€™Neill, who performed well in his rookie year for the Vikings. Edwards already proved he should be a successful run blocker, he just needs to work on pass protection and if he can get coached into better hand technique and faster feet, Edwards could be an above average to Pro-Bowl caliber RT in the NFL. PRO COMPARISON: Lane Johnson PROJECTED ROUND: Early to Late Second Round
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 20
MICHAEL DEITER POSITION: G COLLEGE: Wisconsin DRAFT GRADE: 8.68 (Second) STRENGTHS: Powerful blocker that plays with an intense physicality and high motor. Shows the ability to be a people mover in run blocking while possessing a solid anchor in pass protection. Has versatility at every offensive line position due to spending time at each one at Wisconsin. Fluid footwork in pass protection allows him to mirror defenders well. Explosive first punch and continually works to improve hand position. WEAKNESSES: Lacks the necessarily length to continue playing tackle, where he played for part of college. Struggled in deep passing sets at LT and would get beaten by faster edge players which forced him off balance and they would get around him. SUMMARY: Deiter is a mobile yet physical guard that will succeed in a short passing game, similar to what we might expect in play-action this year. He shows good technique in both pass protection and in run blocking, but lacks the length or speedy footwork to consistenty play tackle in the NFL. And not that the school is always a major factor, but Deiter is coming out of one of the best offensive line schools in terms of consistent production and success in the NFL (I would consider Wisconsin and Iowa to be the two premier schools for offensive line talent and translating to the NFL and pro offenses). Deiter would be able to start from day one in Minnesota at either of the two guard positions. PRO COMPARISON: Austin Corbett PROJECTED ROUND: Mid-Second to Early Third Round
21 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
ANDRE DILLARD POSITION: T COLLEGE: Washington State DRAFT GRADE: 8.65 (Second) STRENGTHS: Elite foot quickness with the ability to mirror speedier edge rushers is rare in pass protection. Exceptional athleticism and ability to move in space, especially in screens. Prototypical length and size for a tackle. Explosive first step in pass protection. Always looking for work and showed a nastiness to his game in 2018 that was previously missing. Multi-year starter with good mental processing. WEAKNESSES: Had issues anchoring against more powerful rushers. Weak hands with inconsistent placement led to getting beat by edge rushers with good hand technique. Too frequently over-extends while anchoring. Lacks leverage due to stance while run blocking. Hasn’t figured out how to apply his strength in blocking. Lacks a finishing mentality. SUMMARY: Dillard is the prototypical, developmental tackle. He’ll require some serious work in run blocking and in his technique, but shows the rare traits necessary to be an elite pass protecting tackle in the NFL. If he is available in the second, he would be a good pick to groom as the future LT for when Reiff’s contract becomes expendable in a year. He would be best suited for a short to mid-range passing game that allows him to utilize his athleticism in space. PRO COMPARISON: David Bakhtiari PROJECTED ROUND: Late First to Mid-Second Round
23 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
ERIK MCCOY POSITION: C/G COLLEGE: Texas A&M DRAFT GRADE: 8.43 (Third) STRENGTHS: Fluid athlete and a great blocker in space due to solid angles and perfectly timed decisions of when to engage. Shows power and strength in the trenches with an explosive first step in run blocking. Silky smooth footwork in pass protection allows him to mirror defenders well and his quick feet allow for impressive recover to close any gap between him and the defender. An incredibly intense competitor that always looks for work when he’s uncovered and won many battles against top-tier talent this year. WEAKNESSES: Lack of length creates issues against longer-armed defenders. Lacks a variety of hand technique and ability to switch up his approach in pass protection that is necessary to not get beat and overpowered by longer-armed defenders and if he misses or misplaces his first punch, defender will beat him due to that lack of length necessary to recover. Can get blown up by a power rusher if he doesn’t get the proper leverage at the line. SUMMARY: McCoy is another versatile interior lineman similar to that of Vikings center Pat Elflein. McCoy shows elite footwork to match his athleticism and intelligence on the line and would be a great fit for the Vikings’ zone blocking scheme. While he’s not a mauling-type guard, he does bring a fire and competitiveness to the line that would be useful and would bring some versatility in being able to play multiple different positions at either center or guard. He would be able to compete with the other players on our line, and likely even start week 1. PRO COMPARISON: Pat Elflein PROJECTED ROUND: Late Second to Mid-Fourth Round
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 24
MICHAEL JORDAN POSITION: G/C COLLEGE: Ohio State DRAFT GRADE: 7.60 (Fourth) STRENGTHS: Big-bodied blocker who moves well in space. Ideal size and length for an interior player with a frame to support more weight if necessary. Mirrors defenders well due to his athleticism. Good drive in his legs while occasionally flashing the capability to be a people mover in the trenches. Flashes explosiveness out of his stance. Played both guard and center at Ohio State, so has some versatility. When he reads defenders well, he chooses double teams wisely. WEAKNESSES: Footwork in pass protection is terrible in about every regard - a narrow base, frequent missteps, and often slow footwork. Lacks aggressiveness and explosiveness with his hands. Slow hands may necessitate a move to solely guard (where he played in 2016 as a freshman and 2017 as a sophomore). Can fail to get a solid anchor against bull rushes due to a lack of leverage stemming from a high stance. Gets lazy when uncovered, looking around rather than helping teammates. SUMMARY: Jordan moved from guard to center for his junior year, but has admittedly wanted to move back to guard and this may be exactly where he belongs due to slower hands. Jordan is still only 21 years old, so has room to continue to mature and grow and has the frame to support added weight likely coming in an NFL strength & conditioning regiment. He tested much worse at the combine than I expected based on his tape, which is a cause for concern. His versatility and potential will be the key to where he lands in the draft as a late day 2 or day 3 pick. He would not likely start from day one as he could use a year to work on his footwork, but shows potential to be a solid starter in the NFL. PRO COMPARISON: Alex Boone PROJECTED ROUND: Early Third to Early Fifth Round
25 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
BOBBY EVANS POSITION: T/G COLLEGE: Oklahoma DRAFT GRADE: 7.58 (Fourth) STRENGTHS: Good explosiveness in run blocking, showing pure power complimented with proper technique at the point of attack. A good frame, especially for an interior player, even though he is a little lanky for a tackle. Good athlete who can change direction well, which lends him to be a good pulling blocker and a good blocker in space. Hips are fluid, which helps him recover in deeper sets. Never gives up on a block and communicates with teammates well. WEAKNESSES: Lacks polish across the board (slow hands, late dropping into his stance, slow and choppy footwork) make Evans a longer time investment before starting. Struggles to reset when he gets off balance. Needs to build on strength in pass protection, which could be a result of trying to catch up after getting out of his stance late. SUMMARY: Evans has all of the necessary traits to be a good right tackle or guard in the NFL, but lacks the polish and technique necessary to do so immediately. Evans would be best served as a two year project to properly refine his hand technique, stance, and footwork, but could also realistically start year two and be an average starter. Evans would bring that run push and competitive fire that the Vikings have been missing on the line over the last two years. PRO COMPARISON: Daryl Williams PROJECTED ROUND: Mid-Third to Late Fourth Round
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 26
ISAIAH PRINCE POSITION: T COLLEGE: Ohio State DRAFT GRADE: 6.99 (Sixth) STRENGTHS: Smooth athleticism allows him to get into the second level quickly and effectively. Flashes the ability to have a solid anchor. Consistent push in the trenches while run blocking due to his strength, hand placement, and strong hands. Most of his issues are technique based, which are fixable. Shows a solid athletic profile. WEAKNESSES: Slow footwork in short set pass protection. Lack of bend in his stance (more fold than bend). Fails to use his length by allowing defenders to get into his body, rather than keeping them at distance with proper hand technique. Plays lazy and soft at times, showing a lack of effort in plays away from him. Narrow feet and overextending lead to a lack of balance. Struggles with recognizing defense and understanding what he needs to do next. SUMMARY: Prince will be a boom-or-bust type of player due to his draftability being purely speculative, which also makes it hard to predict where he will go in April. He lacks a lot of technique, but shows potentially elite run-blocking skills, strength, and a prototypical frame for a right tackle. Despite all of the skills he possesses, he lacked consistent production at Ohio State, which is a concern for translasting to the NFL. Heâ€™ll be a longer-term project to work on footwork, technique, and best utilizing his size, but has the potential to be an Pro Bowl-caliber player if everything goes right. He may be my least favorite fit for the Vikings out of the players in this guide due to the required time it may take to get him ready to play when we have immediate offensive line needs. PRO COMPARISON: Shon Coleman PROJECTED ROUND: Mid-Fourth to Mid-Sixth Round
27 | NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
HJALTE FROHOLDT POSITION: G COLLEGE: Arkansas DRAFT GRADE: 6.50 (Sixth) STRENGTHS: Moves well in space is able to locate and effectively block targets in the second level. Good pull blocker. Quick recognition of defensive adjustments and continually looks to block (although he doesn’t always react quickly). Shows an ability to move in deeper sets, but is a better run blocker than pass protector. Good hand placement on most blocks. Good frame. WEAKNESSES: Lacks physicality, intensity, and a desire to finish blocks. His punches lack explosiveness and he seems to lack strength and power as a whole. Slow to react to counters and slow to get his hands on an opponent. Doesn’t recover well and gets thrown off balance when trying to recover due to overextending. Stiff stance and hips make it easy for him to get off balance. SUMMARY: Froholdt has been playing football for a limited time, so it’s no surprise that his technique is lacking, but he does show potential to be a starter in the NFL. He needs time in an NFL weight room building strength, as that is a major issue of his. He also lacks that finisher mentality that may lead to him not finding long-term success in the NFL. But despite the negatives, he does show the potential to become a solid run blocking guard in the NFL. He did play some center in college, but I think his lack of hand speed will require him to play at guard for the Vikings. His ability to block in space and pull is his ‘ace of spades’ and will need to be utilized well for him to have success. PRO COMPARISON: J.C. Tretter PROJECTED ROUND: Late Fifth to Early Seventh Round
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS | 28
29 | My Solution
CUTS/TRADES I expect the Vikings to cut or restructure the contracts of four or five players this offseason. Among them is an offensive lineman: Mike Remmers. Remmers was a massive failure at guard this past season, and with Reiff and O’Neill playing so well at tackle, he isn’t needed at his cost at tackle. Nearly $6.5m is a lot for a backup offensive tackle when we have cap space issues, so cutting him makes the most sense for the Vikings. MOVES: Cut Remmers (saves over $4.5m in 2019)
FREE AGENTS In free agency, the Vikings goal should be to get players that not only have proven success in the time they were given to play, but also have potential to grow. For me, free agency should be used to address the offensive line issues in a way that doesn’t force me to reach for a pick in the draft for the sake of taking an offensive lineman, but also is cost effective with the limited cap space the Vikings have and allows me to add competition and upgrade via the draft. The contracts will need to be forward-thinking and allow for the ability to move on without taking a massive dead cap hit in case it doesn’t work out as planned. I believe that the following players would fit our scheme and locker room culture, be cost effective, and yet upgrade the line: Sign G Billy Turner: 2 year, $7,000,000 ($2,500,000 guaranteed) Turner’s play style fits the profile of what the Vikings are looking for and would also provide familiarity with Turner, Kubiak, and Dennison all in Denver after Denver picked up Turner in 2016. Turner’s versatility and ability to play tackle in a pinch (although guard is where he should play long-term) would be a nice asset to have on the offensive line and would fit what Spielman has traditionally looked for from the offensive line. The contract itself would be a low risk, high reward opportunity for a player that has improved each year since being cut by Miami in 2016. His contract would be similar to that of Mike Person’s, who just resigned with San Francisco this offseason: 2019
Cap Hit: $2,750,000
Cap Hit: $2,250,000
Base Salary: $1,700,000
Base Salary: $2,000,000
Roster Bonus: $1,000,000
Roster Bonus: $200,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Dead Cap Space: $2,500,000
Dead Cap Space: $0
My Solution | 30
Sign T/G Ty Nsekhe: 3 year, $15,000,000 ($6,500,000 guaranteed) Nsekhe is another versatile offensive lineman that would be a good fit both in the present and the near future. Nsekhe played a combination of tackle and guard (mostly from the left side) for Washington in 2018 and has shown to be a solid player at both positions. He was the 19th most effective pass blocker out of all tackles last year, better than both Reiff and O’Neill and alongside household names like David Bakhtiari, Joe Staley, and Duane Brown. By signing him to a three year contract, we would be able to move him inside to LG for year one since he’s shown to play decently there, and then would have the versatility to bump him out to OT and cut Riley Reiff after the 2019 season, which would save us $10 million (including the $11 million to pay Nsekhe over 2020 and 2021, who has played at about the same level as Reiff for the last four years). We should be able to sign him to a similarly structured contract as that of Alejandro Villanueva: 2019
Cap Hit: $4,000,000
Cap Hit: $5,000,000
Cap Hit: $6,000,000
Base Salary: $2,450,000
Base Salary: $3,950,000
Base Salary: $4,950,000
Roster Bonus: $1,500,000
Roster Bonus: $1,000,000
Roster Bonus: $1,000,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Dead Cap Space: $6,500,000
Dead Cap Space: $2,500,000
Dead Cap Space: $1,000,000
Resign G/C Nick Easton: 2 year, $4,500,000 ($1,500,000 guaranteed) Easton has been solid in pass blocking since he joined the Vikings in 2016, although his run blocking has been inconsistent and left a little to be desired at times. Easton provides some versatility on the line to play any of the interior line positions (perhaps you’re sensing a similar trend here...). The biggest question mark will be how he bounces back from his neck injury, which is a serious injury and will likely provide a limited market for him in the offseason, keeping his cost rather low. In this case, I think a low guaranteed contract with no dead cap after 2019 is probably likely, in the case that he isn’t the same player he was prior to the neck injury last year. I think we could look to a similar structure in contract as Chance Warmack’s contract with the Eagles in 2017: 2019
Cap Hit: $2,000,000
Cap Hit: $2,500,000
Base Salary: $1,050,000
Base Salary: $1,450,000
Roster Bonus: $400,000
Roster Bonus: $500,000
Per Game Roster Bonuses: $500,000
Per Game Roster Bonuses: $500,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Workout Bonus: $50,000
Dead Cap Space: $1,500,000
Dead Cap Space: $0
31 | My Solution
NFL DRAFT Following free agency, the draft provides teams with a variety of prospects that could be the solution to their team needs and cheaper rookie contracts. There are many different approaches the Vikings could take to their draft this year - take offensive line early and often, wait on offensive line until a good value drops in round two or three, or get a mix of offensive line and other primary needs (this is the approach I took). With that (and knowing I addressed free agency the way I did), here’s how I would approach the draft:
Round 1, Pick 18: TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa I know some people might be upset I don’t take an offensive lineman here, but Hockenson addresses several issues the Vikings have with a single pick. He’s a weapon in the middle of the field for Cousins (who notably loves tight ends) while also taking some of the safety pressure off of Diggs and Thielen. He’s a silky smooth route runner who showed a diverse set of routes at Iowa and has an incredibly wide catch radius. He’s extremely athletic and fast, but is also physical and not afraid to get physical with defenders either after the catch or in contested situations. He’s a playmaker both when going to get the ball and after the ball is in his hands. But not only is he a solid receiver, but he is an elite run blocking tight end. There are several instances on tape where he drives Big Ten defensive ends five to ten yards backwards before planting them on their butts. He’s technically sound, strong, competitive, and always looking to finish a block. In all honesty, there are no easily notifiable weaknesses on tape, and could be a top ten player in this class, even after accounting for the positional value of a tight end.
Round 2, Pick 50: Dalton Risner, G/T, Kansas State Risner could fall farther than most expect, especially if the NFL views him as a guard instead of a tackle. I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here since I had a full report on him just 14 pages ago, but he’s a player that would fit perfectly with the type of linemen Rick has targeted, while giving versatility for him to kick out to RT if need be. He’d be a good value in round two for a starting lineman.
Round 3, Pick 81: Gerald Willis, DT, Miami (FL) Willis is a player I really like as a day two option for us. He’s an explosive pass rusher with impressive range for a defensive tackle. He’s aggressive and physically nasty when he plays, all while still being athletic. What will drop Willis this far is his off-the-field issues. He transferred from Florida due to issues with coaches, was suspended, and then took a leave.
My Solution | 32
However, coaches have said that he is different following his leave of absence compared to before. The Vikings have shown that they aren’t afraid to take a player with a little history as long as those issues won’t flare back up (see: Dalvin Cook). All-in-all, Willis brings a high upside and a skill set that could help him succeed in the Vikings’ schemes.
Round 4, Pick 114: Anthony Nelson, EDGE, Iowa Nelson didn’t show the freakish athletic traits on tape that you’d expect the Vikings to target, but he showed up with an exceptional combine, measuring in the 85th percentile or higher in height, wingspan, arm length, vertical, broad jump, 3-cone, and 20 yard shuttle among defensive linemen. Mockdraftable.com lists his #1 comparison athletically as sack artist Chandler Jones (who has registered 10+ sacks in five of his last six seasons). He shows solid technique in both pass rush and run defense and is a stout run defender on the edge. He’s high character, high motor, and high production and could actually add more weight to his frame if desired. Personally, I think he should be a late second or early third round pick, but based on where he is on most peoples’ draft boards, Nelson should be available here in round four.
Round 6, Pick 178: Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis Doss is a versatile wide receiver who showed the ability to play both in the slot and outside - allowing him to compliment Diggs and Thielen regardless of where they line up. Doss has good straight speed to pair with strong hands and solid blocking, but lacks the agility and route running to be a game-changer. He was a vertical threat at UC-Davis and would be a good blend between Aldrick Robinson and Laquon Treadwell. For a player that is a late round pick, Doss seems to make a lot of sense given the #3 receivers they’ve had in the past.
Round 6, Pick 209: Hjalte Froholdt, G, Arkansas Again, not going into a whole lot of detail here due to his scouting report being 5 pages ago, but the Vikings take a fellow viking to add depth to their interior line.
33 | My Solution
Round 7, Pick 247: Blace Brown, CB, Troy Brown struggle at both the Shrine Game and at the combine, and as a result, will likely tank in the draft. He’s a solid zone press corner (perfect for Mike Zimmer’s schemes) that isn’t afraid to get physical in the secondary, shows elite instincts at the position, and provides more 6+ foot depth in a physical corner - especially needed if we trade Trae Waynes away. Brown’s biggest issues are all technical and coachable issues, so I think Zimmer’s expertise should be able to hide some of those issues and he could become a valuable part of our secondary.
Round 7, Pick 250: Drew Lewis, LB, Colorado Lewis is a player similar to Eric Wilson at LB - 6’1” and 230 pounds while being rangy, fast, and a good coverage linebacker. Lewis shows good tackle technique while being able to get about anywhere on the field (slip between the tackles, etc.) Where Lewis struggles is his lack of strength (which our S&C team could hopefully fix) and his leverage technique when he needs to use power to get through the offensive line. He’d be a good and moldable linebacker that would be able to step in in the case of an injury.
All design and written content © 2019 Micah Tweeten. Original photos and logos are property of their owners and are used under the fair use law as repurposed, edited, and nonessential content under the nonprofit, educational, and research sections as laid out by the law.