#10 | Pat Elflein
The Vikings moved up in round 3 in the 2017 NFL Draft to land the talented and versatile interior lineman from Ohio St. Elflein is a tough, physical blocker who can play center or guard. It’s not real fair to put a rookie on this list, but with how bad the Vikings’ line was a season ago, the team needs him to contribute sooner than later.
Why Elflein’s Performance is so Important
The Vikings offensive line wasn’t overly talented when the 2016 season began, but then injuries hit like the plague. By mid season they were signing pretty much any guy they could off the street. The team couldn’t get any push or open up any holes in the run game. Pass protection was an absolute joke, and it’s a true miracle that QB Sam Bradford wasn’t seriously injured from all the shots he took. If Elflein can come in and either lock down the starting center or right guard spot, that would be a major improvement over what was on the field a year ago. Elfein’s nasty style of play is very much needed on this puppy dog offensive line. He can open up lanes in the running game, which would make the offense much more balanced. It would allow the Vikings to sustain drives and keep the defense off the field and fresher as the game progresses.
Elflein wins a starting spot. He is as advertised, and his physical blocking style improves the Vikings running game, and also gives more time to Sam Bradford in the pocket. The offense benefits as a whole, and becomes a top 15 unit in the league.
Elflein struggles in his adjustment to the NFL game. He doesn’t earn a starting spot, which leaves Nick Eason at center and Joe Berger at guard. The offensive line is again sub par, and the Vikings offense has trouble running the ball, as well as keeping Sam Bradford clean in the pocket.