Let’s Reid between the lines…
With free agency in full swing, the Vikings have signed one new offensive lineman (Mason Cole) and retained two others (Rashod Hill and Dakota Dozier). These players should make for good backups, but they do not belong in the starting five.
Rashod Hill is a known product. We’ve seen him many times as both an injury substitution, and a starting tackle. It’s hard to say what causes it, but Hill plays great as a backup only to struggle mightily as a starter. Fans can be glad to have him around again on a cheap one year deal, but he should not be considered a bookend for the O-line.
Jefferson makes the safety stumble on the post route for what might have been a touchdown on 3rd & 20, but Rashod Hill (and Ezra Cleveland) fall apart against a simple stunt and instead the Vikings take a second consecutive sack pic.twitter.com/9tdL6f5ERY
— Nick Olson (@NickOlsonNFL) December 17, 2020
Mason Cole was acquired a couple weeks ago from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a sixth round pick. Social media can be deceiving when it comes to “analyzing” new players. Many fan accounts eagerly jumped to saying he would be the Vikings new starter at left guard, no questions asked. However, it’s important to quiet the hype and look at players objectively.
Here are both sacks Mason Cole allowed last year.
Seems to have an issue getting into his stance out of the snap, which, along with some bad snaps, helps explain why the Vikings might think there's some value to unlock by moving him to guard: pic.twitter.com/1ueaijM4MC
— Nick Olson (@NickOlsonNFL) March 25, 2021
Cole still has some upside as a 25 year old athlete, but Pro Football Focus gave him only a 46.1 pass blocking grade last year. The fact that it only took a sixth rough pick to trade for him says a lot too. Sadly, Mason Cole is not the starter Minnesota needs protecting Kirk Cousins at guard.
Dakota Dozier is in a similar situation to Cole. Dozier has been a guard in the league for a few years, but he continues to earn poor pass blocking grades from PFF. He is familiar with offensive line coach Rick Dennison’s run blocking scheme, but that isn’t enough to compensate for his suspect pass protection skills. Dozier will have to dig deep to even make the roster coming out of training camp.
Dakota Dozier is beaten off of the ball and then fails to pick up a stunt, leading to a drive-ending sack pic.twitter.com/1zdZ7kxNUa
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) December 13, 2020
As the draft approaches, it’s good that Minnesota has already made some moves on the offensive line. That said, the position group is still in dire need of upgrades via free agency or the draft.