After trading up in the second round to select running back Dalvin Cook, the Vikings again made moves in round three, surrendering a fifth rounder to move up nine spots and select Ohio State offensive lineman Pat Elflein.
Elflein is a three-year starter for the Buckeyes, and was named to the All-Big Ten team each season. He played both guard and center in college, and will compete for a starting job as a rookie.
Here’s what folks around the web are saying about the Vikings’ first third round pick:
“A doozy of a find in Round 3, and well worth trading up from No. 79 to get him. Elflein was the best center in this draft—he can be Minnesota’s man in the middle for years to come, assuming he wins that job out of camp. If he doesn’t, he can start at guard.”
“I loved Minnesota’s first pick. This one? Not so much. The Vikings moved up in the third round to select a fourth-round prospect, so I don’t really like this move. I don’t hate it though, as there aren’t very many good offensive linemen, and Minnesota is desperate. Pat Elflein can start at guard right away and eventually move to center in a couple of years.”
“He can play guard or center for a team that needs line help. I like it. ”
“Elflein is a clubhouse leader type who moved from right guard to center last season for the Buckeyes and instantly earned All-America status. He mixes a cerebral approach to positioning and blitz pickup with a brutal finish when he latches on.
Lack of all-around quickness and agility will always give Elflein trouble against top defenders, in blitz pickup and when blocking on the move. But size, strength and work habits will keep him in the starting lineup for a long time.
The Vikings list 34-year-old Joe Berger as their starting center right now. That won’t last long.”
“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.
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.”
Pro Football Focus
“Pat Elflein can play either guard or center, so that positional versatility is very valuable in the third round. Elflein is at his best as a run blocker, and his 90.2 percent run-block success rate ranks 19th among centers in the draft class.”