The Minnesota Vikings have had a very active offseason. They have added Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Woods.
Not a shock considering they struggled mightily on defense (27th overall in the league) and that they have a defensive-minded head coach.
However, the offense line once again was amongst the worst in the league. They have only added Mason Cole (trade with the Arizona Cardinals), who could perhaps be a starting guard, but could also just be used for depth.
Riley Reiff was their best offensive lineman last season, but was released due to his high salary cap number. Ezra Cleveland was the team’s starting right guard for nine games, but did play left tackle in college and could perhaps start there in 2021.
The Vikings did reportedly express interest in Austin Blythe and Forrest Lamp. Neither were expensive options and they certainly could have afforded them, given they are $7.458 million under the salary cap.
They had interest in Joe Thuney as well until he signed a five-year/$80 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. They would not have been able to match that anyways, but they could have certainly afforded Lamp or Blythe.
Why have they not been more aggressive in upgrading the protection? It could be they want to wait and see how the draft goes, especially since it is unknown what position Cleveland will play. After the draft, they will have a better idea. There are also not many lineman available. Lamp or Blythe are not great by any means, but certainly would have helped. Both Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia struggled mightitly at guard. Cleveland did well overall, especially for a rookie who was not even playing his natural position.
It will be interesting to see what they do in the draft. How many lineman will they draft? Who will they take? Could they trade down and draft both an offensive and defensive lineman?
One option could be USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker. He has played both guard spots and left tackle. His versatility would certainly help. It would be interesting to see where the Vikings put him and Cleveland. Either way, it would give them more options.
Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis could perhaps be available in the third round.
Currently the Vikings have ten draft choices, so they will have the opportunity to draft at least a few offensive lineman. Only time will tell how many of them will be good though.
Options still available in free agency include guards Nick Easton, Trai Turner, James Carpenter and Lane Taylor and left tackle Eric Fisher.
One thing is for certain. They cannot afford to have poor protection once again. Currently it is looking even worse with Reiff gone. Yes, the offense was very good last season (fourth overall in the league) and should be again, but if they want to go far in 2021 and keep Kirk Cousins healthy, they need better protection. Even it will be even slightly better, it would pay dividends.