There wasn’t a greater weakness for the Vikings in 2016 than the offensive line. Riddled with injury and not a ton of depth, the offensive backfield was constantly loaded with opposing defenders causing ruckus.
Going into the offseason the Vikings will have 3 free agents along the line, Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, and Jake Long. We can all agree that Jake Long and Andre Smith won’t be back. The big question is former 1st rounder Matt Kalil. Will the Vikings be able to re-sign him at a reasonable price, and will he even want to come back? Many give Kalil a hard time and say he isn’t worth bringing back, and yes he has had his ups and downs. But people forget how hard it is to even find an average left tackle. So if you haven’t realized yet, i’m 100% on board on bringing him back…… at the right price.
The tough part about improving the line is that the Vikings aren’t a player or two away from fixing it. They are going to add multiple players along the entire line OT, G, and C to get this group back to a solid unit. It will take at least 1 high priced free agent, along with some free agent depth moves …. on top of that they’ll also need to spend not only an early draft pick, but multiple picks come draft day.
Below is how I could see our offensive tackle situation shaking out and some options in both free agency and the draft that could help get the Vikings line back into shape.
FREE AGENT OPTIONS
First lets start off with REALISTIC free agent offensive lineman options in free agency.
The “Dream Boat” Guy
Ricky Wagner, Ravens
Wagner has steadily become one of the best right tackles in the NFL, and he will cash in on it this offseason. I see him as one of the best available lineman and would be a HUGE step in turning around this offensive line. At only 27 years old he has plenty of gas left in the tank and could help man the right side of the line for years to come. While if the did end up in Purple it would no doubt be their big splash pick for the offseason, it would be well worth it.
The “Stop-Gap” Guy
Andrew Whitworth, Bengals
If Whitworth was 10 years younger he would be making some serious casheesh this offseason. But fact is, he is 35 years old …. and even though he still playing at a very high level this age should and will scare teams off on how much they are willing to give him. He really hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down, but when you get this old it is only a matter of time. I see Whitworth as an option only if Kalil bolts …. but something tells me Cincy will be a heavy contender to re-sign him.
The “Can We Fix Him” Guy
Riley Reiff, Lions
Lets face it Reiff has not been great during his time in Detroit… but he is a former 1st round pick and is still young enough to turn it around. Since being drafted he has been moved to the right side of the line, so he has the ability to play either spot which makes him attractive and he should come at a decent price.
NFL DRAFT OPTIONS
Now … lets move on to the rookies options.
The “Instant Starter”
Antonio Garcia, Troy
No Garicia isn’t a household name ….. YET. The small schooler has every thing you want in a big man, big frame, long arms, and athleticism. Sure he needs to beef up a bit and get stronger, but with some work that will come. He is very smooth and has great footwork that could catapult him into the starting lineman day 1. Was one of the best bigmen at the Senior Bowl and can play right or left tackle, should hear his name called sometime in round 2.
The “Do It All” Guy
Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
Moton has played pretty much everywhere along the offensive line during his time at Western Michigan. He is a guy who could step in day 1 and compete for a starting spot (most likely at guard) but also add depth at both the offensive tackle spot and guard. Would be a guy the Vikings could gradually work into the starting spot hopefully by year 2. Would be more what they were hoping to get from Willie Beavers.
The “Mid Round Gem” Guy
Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh
Bisnowaty has started 44 games at left tackle for the Panthers during his college career racking up back to back All-ACC honors. His biggest hurdle will be making the transition from left to right tackle, which might make teams shy away on taking him overly early. But …. what do the Vikings need along the line??? Depth. So if they could get a guy like Bisnowaty in say the 5th round it would be a big ole win. He would not only provide depth early in his career, but could be a starter down the road.
MY FINAL PREDICTION????
When all is said and done I think the Vikings splashy moves at offensive tackle will look a little something like this … along with a few other FA moves, but these will be the big boy moves
Free Agent Signings
Re-Sign Matt Kalil