As we look ahead, there is still one big question as we head into Minnesota Vikings training camp.
As we are about to head into training camp, there are still some questions within the Minnesota Vikings roster.
After an all in all productive offseason, the Vikings will try to put it all together as they select their final roster heading into the 2016-17 NFL season.
One of the biggest questions coming out of last season for the Vikings was their offensive line. After a season in which young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was pressured on 47% of his drop backs, some changes had to be made.
First of those changes was hiring a new offensive line coach. Tony Sparano was the man who was offered the job. A former NFL head coach, Sparano should bring more than just his skill set to coach up and put together the best combination along the offensive front.
After losing multiple starters early last season, Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan, there were rookies and career backups thrust into the starting jobs. With these players looking to make a comeback, the Vikings offensive line should see an immediate improvement. That is if Loadholt and Sullivan can stay healthy.
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Just in case that does not happen, the Vikings got themselves some insurance. In free agency the Vikings signed former Cincinnati Bengal first round pick Andre Smith to compete for the right tackle spot. If Sullivan and his multiple back injuries can not hold up, the Vikings will turn back to Joe Berger, who was the one bright spot along the Vikings offensive line last season. Pro Football Focus graded Berger as the NFL’s top run blocker last season. Both Berger and Sullivan being on the wrong side of 30 is a concern though.
Also in free agency, the Vikings signed former San Francisco 49er Alex Boone. He will immediately fill in at left guard. All though he is past his prime years, Boone still has enough in the tank to help improve this line. Having a strong anchor on Bridgewater’s blind side will be big as well as someone who can help create larger holes for Adrian Peterson.
Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil is going to have to pick up his play this season also. All though he showed improvement last year from his 2014-15 season, Kalil has never lived up to his expectations or even showed the promise he did in his rookie season. Having Boone to his right should help sure up the left side of the line.
There will be multiple position battles along the line in camp this year as the Vikings are loaded with players for new offensive line coach Tony Sparano to decipher.
There has been a lot of talk of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s ability in the passing game and especially in throwing the deep ball. Some consideration must be takin that he played behind one of the worst offensive lines in football last season and was in a mostly run based offense. If the line can up their play in pass protection, expect there to be more opportunities for Bridgewater to take chances down the field.
Coming into the 2016-17 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings will have the league’s most expensive offensive line all though it is not the best. We will have to wait and see who makes the final roster, and what combination the new coaching staff puts out on the field to give us the best chance to succeed.