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Approaching The Draft: Offensive Tackles

Michael Oher
Here is what’ll likely be the most talked about position in the upcoming draft when folks are discussing the Vikings.

CURRENT STATUS: Offensive tackle is widely considered the most pressing need on the Vikings roster (at least now that they traded for Sage Rosenfels and somewhat quieted down talks of new quarterbacks) and it is assumed that the Vikings will draft at least one tackle in the upcoming draft. Bryant McKinnie is a very expensive left tackle who has for the most part achieved less than what was expected of him, especially in pass protection. Last year, starting right tackle Ryan Cook was awful when it came to pass protection and causing penalties.

He was eventually replaced by the versatile Artis Hicks, who also filled in at left tackle during McKinnie’s suspension, and did an admirable job before he was sidelined by an injury. Besides those three players, the Vikings only have Drew Radovich who has yet to play an NFL game because of injury and Chris Clark a relatively unknown practice squad player, both of whom are young and inexperienced. From this summary alone, it is easy to see why the Vikings would like to add quality and depth to the tackle position. While Minnesota wouldn’t shed a tear if they found a great left tackle to replace Bryant McKinnie, the most pressing need is to find a solid starter on the right side.

ROUND ONE: It would not come as a shock to anyone if the Vikings went with an offensive tackle with their first pick. The main difficulty comes when someone tries to figure out which tackles will and wont be available when the Vikings choose at #22. Will Michael Oher fall to them? Is Andre Smith a nut job? Are Eben Britton’s arms too short (shortest of all the players at the combine)? Is William Beatty the reason Donald Brown became such a star in college? Well, I think of all the tackles mentioned, one other guy is going to be considered above all by the Vikings in round one. He is South Carolina’s James Jamon Meredith (thanks for the catch, Jianfu). Meredith is 6’ 5” and 300 lbs, but manages to be very athletic which will appeal to Childress as his zone-blocking scheme requires players to be more athletic and quick than some other schemes.

While I wouldn’t blame the Vikes for taking a tackle in round one, I’m going for value here. I think Troy Kropog of Tulane will likely be available to the Vikings when they pick in round two. Kropog has the size and is athletic enough to come in and start from day one. Instant impact with a second round pick… sounds good to me. Kropog is also used to blocking for great running backs, as he paved the path for Matt Forte during his college playing time. I by no means think the Vikings should only draft one tackle, as they should be looking at that position in every single round.

LEAST LIKELY TO BE TARGETED: Most teams would want “two giant monsters” as their starting tackles. Since the Vikings all ready have a tackle who displays his monster-like demeanor by hiring strippers for a team party on Lake Minnetonka and by hitting bouncers over the head with a pole, I’d venture a guess to say that they want their next tackle to be a different type of “monster.” That’s why the Vikings will not call Alex Boone of Ohio State. While he’s a monster in one sense (6’ 7” 330 lbs.) he’s also a character worry. He decided to play Godzilla with a tow-truck during a drunken escapade. If you add that to the fact that he was just plain terrible last year, then I think it’s safe to say that the Vikings would use the time it would take to call Boone more efficiently on something else… like, say, calling to see what Bus Cook is up to.

MOST LIKELY TO HAPPEN: Oklahoma’s Phil Loadholt will be visiting the Vikings before the draft. He’s a huge guy (6’ 8” 330 lbs.) who is considered a physically impressive tackle who lacks real technique and athleticism. I’ve heard people call him a first round pick and I’ve heard some say they wouldn’t touch him until the 5th round. Whether or not the Vikings give Loadholt serious consideration may depend on what Adrian Peterson (former Sooner teammates) has to say about him. While he’s going to struggle with speed at the next level, and will not be a premier pass blocker, his premium attribute is his ability to run block. That’s an area in which he could end up being one of the best in the NFL. I see the Vikings targeting Loadholt in the second round, if he’s still there. If they get him, he could probably start on the right side from day one.

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4 Responses to “Approaching The Draft: Offensive Tackles”

  1. buddy grant says:

    The Vikes seem to have a strong interest in Loadholt but given their past history it could all be a smokescreen. The analysis is right on the mark; a great run blocker but he will struggle with pass protection. Probably an upgrade over Cook but perhaps not enough to justify a second round pick. I agree Meredith is more athletic but the knock on him is difficulty in handling the bull rush. If he can improve his strength and technique he would be a beter fit for the ZBS.

    Frankly if Smith fell I think we would be silly not to draft him. He has maturity and weight issues but is so naturally talented that his upside is off the charts. Put him on the proper conditioning program and assign a mentor to him for a year or two and he might become the best OL in the league.

  2. Adam Warwas says:

    Buddy, thanks for visiting the site and support mentioned in your earlier post.

    Your QB analysis is good, but the Vikings will probably want to avoid another Thigpen-type scenario. In other words, if the Vikings have T-Jack, Sage, and JDB ont he roster, then draft McGee, which one do they risk sending through waivers?

    Agreed on Smith’s potential, but the Underwood memories are still lingering and I’d hate to see our #22 pick go to a guy who isn’t interested in being professional.

    Thanks again for stopping in! I’ll try and keep conversation going as best as I can.

  3. […] the offensive side of the ball. Feel free to check out my previous segments on guards and centers, offensive tackles, Tight Ends, Wide Outs, Running Backs, and […]

  4. jianfu says:

    Just for clarification, the South Carolina OT is JAMON Meredith, not James. He’s actually the guy I want. Eben Britton seems like he could be a stud in the Vikings system, but most teams don’t use 1st round picks to acquire right tackles.

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