#4 | Andre Smith
Andre Smith was a late free agent signing by the Vikings. He was thought to be brought in to battle RT Phil Loadholt for the starting job. When Loadholt retired this spring, the job appeared to be Smith’s to lose. After his sub par performance in preseason week 1, there were rumblings that might actually happen. Luckily for the Purple, he’s fared much better in his last two Preseason starts.
Why Smith’s Performance is so Important
The Vikings love to run the football and Smith is built to do just that. He is a big road grading tackle who can push not just him man down the field but an entire pile if need be. The Vikings relied on rookie TJ Clemmings a season ago and had to live with the ups and downs of his play. This year they are hoping Smith can play well consistently week in and week out, improving the Vikings running game, and giving Teddy more time in the pocket.
Smith is as advertised. He is a beast run blocking for AP. Peterson goes on a tear and once again leads the league in rushing. Smith’s pass protection is also better than Clemmings was a year ago, and Teddy’s passing numbers also improve.
Smith looks like he did in the first preseason game against the Bengals. He is slow off the ball and his effort is highly lacking. He is replaced mid season by TJ Clemmings, and is released by the Vikings at season’s end, and soon forgotten.