There’s no question that a certain position group has plagued the Minnesota Vikings in recent years. The offensive line has been like a crack in the ceiling that keeps getting worse. You hope it’ll just go away but sooner or later you’ll have to patch it. Over time you’ll find out if your patchwork will hold or if you need to find a new way to repair it. Ultimately you’ll find out whether or not it’s part of a much bigger issue.
Considering how often Kirk Cousins was pressured last season, it’s safe to say the Vikings realized more work needed to be done. Just how bad was it?
Pass blocking efficiency, as defined by Pro Football Focus, is “effectively measuring pressures allowed on a per-snap basis.” On Monday, Mark Chichester of PFF ranked all 32 NFL offensive lines by pass-blocking efficiency. The Vikings’ group tied for 29th with the Los Angeles Chargers. Here’s what Chichester wrote about the Vikings’ unit:
2018 pass-blocking efficiency: 80.9
Kirk Cousins‘ first year in Minnesota didn’t go quite as well as the team had hoped, but he didn’t really have much help up front. No offensive line allowed more pressures than the Vikings did last year (226), while no team allowed more hurries (166) or allowed hurries at a higher rate (one hurry every four pass-blocking snaps).
On top of allowing the most pressures and highest hurry rate in the league, the Vikings offensive line allowed 40 sacks in 2018. Aside from left tackle Riley Reiff, not one player from the unit had a top-80 grade last season. The interior of the line was perhaps the worst in football, with Tom Compton, Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers giving up 18 sacks, 78 hurries and 109 pressures combined.
Reiff had the best pass-blocking grade of the team’s front five (71.3). Brett Jones, who saw very few snaps after the return of Elflein, was second with a grade of 70.3. The remaining starters graded in the 60’s with Rashod Hill garnering a grade of 55.1 and Elflein bottoming-out the group with a 44.3. Rookie Brian O’Neill (65.5) was the unit’s bright spot at right tackle, not allowing a sack in 531 pass-blocking snaps.
This offseason the Vikings have started to make small repairs, inking Josh Kline, Dakota Dozier and re-signing Jones. But if they want to avoid another major renovation they’ll really sink their teeth into the construction of the o-line during the NFL Draft, which is in t-minus 17 days.