The Minnesota Vikings enter training camp with continuity along their offensive line, but there is competition for the left guard spot.
Left tackle Matt Kalil took a step back from his impressive rookie season, but the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line still performed solidly as a whole. Pro Football Focus ranked their unit sixth in the league.
Kalil will look to return to 2012 form, and the Vikings are in search of an upgrade at left guard. They acted accordingly by drafting David Yankey in the fifth round. Yankey is considered to be a steal since he was rated as a second-round prospect, and he was a two-time All-American at Stanford.
The former Cardinal guard is the favorite to win the left guard job, but he will compete with Jeff Baca for it. Charlie Johnson may be cut after being the weak link on the Vikings’ offensive line.
John Sullivan will continue as the starting center. The former All-Pro has done a fantastic job of anchoring the line and opening up lanes for running back Adrian Peterson.
Brandon Fusco also enjoyed a solid season for the Vikings at right guard. His development is coming along steadily, and his fourth year figures to be even more promising.
Phil Loadholt is set to start his sixth consecutive season as the Vikings’ starting right tackle after putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2013.
The Vikings will also bring in promising depth with Antonio Richardson being signed as undrafted free agent. The former Tennessee tackle mysteriously went undrafted after being considered first-round material by some.
He made All-SEC second team twice in a row, and he is sure to have a chip on his shoulder. Richardson vowed to prove that he should have been a first-round pick shortly after the draft concluded. Kevin Murphy is looking to be promoted from the practice squad and be a backup tackle along with Richardson.
At guard, Baca and Joe Berger will presumably be the backups to Yankey and Fusco. Berger offers versatility while Baca offers upside that may boost him over Yankey as the starter. Vladimir Ducasse, who was a castoff from the New York Jets, will also fight for a backup guard job with the Vikings.
There will likely be nine offensive linemen in Minnesota, and the final spot will come down to Ducasse and Murphy. Ducasse struggled with the Jets and lost his starting job last season, but Murphy has no experience beyond the practice squad.