Pat Elflein Has a New Home

Vikings Player Tapped as 'Most Underrated'
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Entering the 2017 draft, the Vikings came off a horrendous offensive line season. Loaded injury reports and talentless players mixed together led to Sam Bradford running for his life after coming to Minnesota. An infusion of talent had to follow, and then-general manager Rick Spielman added a bunch of linemen.

Pat Elflein Has a New Home

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Dalvin Cook was the Vikings’ first player drafted in the second round in 2017 as the first-round pick went to the Philadelphia Eagles for Bradford’s rights. Pat Elflein followed in the third round. Coming out of Ohio State, many pundits viewed him as the best center in the draft, so he was an obvious pick for Spielman, especially after he had signed Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff in free agency to handle the offensive tackle duties. Elflein won the Rimington Trophy for the nation’s best center and was a unanimous All-American.

Fast forward to 2023, Elflein landed a new gig with the Arizona Cardinals, as reported by Tom Pelissero. The center had a promising start to his Vikings career. He won the starting job in training camp and entered his debut season as the center, playing in 14 games in 2017 and two postseason contests. He suffered a broken ankle in the NFC Championship game.

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Following the season, Elflein underwent shoulder and ankle surgery and subsequently missed the start of his second season with the Vikings, getting some snaps in Week 3 and starting for the first time in Week 4.

After the Vikings selected Garrett Bradbury in the first round in 2019, Elflein moved to left guard and remained there throughout the season before moving to right guard in 2020. A thumb injury limited him to one game in 2020, and the team placed him on IR. He was surprisingly waived in November, ending his chapter with the purple team.

The center started six games after the New York Jets claimed him off waivers, and he spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, starting in 15 games. Injuries limited him in both seasons, and the Panthers released him in March.

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Elflein’s PFF grades are average at best and disastrous at worst. In his rookie campaign, he ranked 21st out of 35 centers, but he ranked 38th in 2018 — dead last. He was 41st of 83 guards in 2019 and 73rd out of 80 in 2020. Back to center in 2021, he ranked 37th out of 39 players at the position.

The Cardinals employ Hjalte Froholdt at center, who has been a backup more most of his three-year career in New England and Cleveland. Elflein could actually have a chance to start at some point on the team with a shaky offensive line.

Vikings starting center is Garrett Bradbury, and his backups are Austin Schlottmann and Josh Sokol. Minnesota has tried to fix the offensive line over the years, but the line’s interior is still a weakness of the team. Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw are a fantastic offensive tackle duo.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt