G/C – Ohio State
Weight: 303 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 3/4″
General manager Rick Spielman addressed the outside of the offensive line in free agency, bringing in both Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to presumably fill starting roles.
That left the interior portion of the offensive line to be addressed during the draft, and that’s exactly what Spielman did by sending the New York Jets a fifth-rounder to move up nine spots for Pat Elflein.
Elflein is arguably the most well-rounded interior offensive lineman in this draft class. He combines a strong, tree trunk-like lower frame with brute strength to create lanes in the ground game.
As a pass protector, Elflein’s quick-thinking is evident when he deciphers twisting defensive linemen. He also uses his hands efficiently, hitting defenders with a quick punch early to throw them out of their move.
Elflein boasts an impressive pedigree as a strong leader of an offensive line unit that anchored Ohio State’s success over the past few seasons.
The main weakness in Elflein is the footwork, which is much more susceptible to being exposed at the NFL level against much quicker defensive linemen. He’ll very rarely get beat on a bull rush, but his footwork limits him against finesse moves around him.
Versatility is the name of the game for both the Vikings and Elflein. He thrived in several types of blocking schemes at multiple positions. The Buckeyes plugged him in as a starter at left guard, right guard and center in his college career.
Minnesota’s biggest hole prior to the NFL Draft was the blank slate at right guard. The other four starting positions have more or less been filled in Reiff, Alex Boone, Joe Berger and Remmers. Elflein will likely enter training camp with an excellent chance to be the Day 1 starter at right guard.
Furthermore, Elflein’s experience at center provides Minnesota with several options with Joe Berger’s retirement looming. Spielman can either slide Elflein to center and look to add a right guard or he can stick Elflein at right guard and look to address center.
Tony Sparano and the Minnesota coaching staff love versatility in offensive linemen. Elflein will fit like a glove as part of Spielman’s effort to re-tool the offensive line.
Minnesota traded up once again after trading up for Dalvin Cook, and did so with good reason. Elflein’s versatility was simply not lasting on the board nine more picks and he clearly was the guy Spielman wanted in his rebuilding effort along the most important unit on the team.
The former Ohio State Buckeye has the potential to be a rock solid starter in the NFL for a decade — and that in itself is absolutely worth a fifth-round pick.
Make your voice heard on Vikings Territory. Grade general manager Rick Spielman’s trade and pick of Pat Elflein here.