The Vikings offense thrived in 2020, but the team still had revealed weaknesses in that unit.
For example, the team frequently fought to protect the quarterback. Minnesota’s inside offensive line often gave way, forcing Kirk Cousins to make mistakes.
At least the Vikings have tried to improve the offensive line slightly this offseason. The team recently switched to Cardinals center Mason Cole. Minnesota only had to give up a sixth-round pick to get it, too.
It’s hard to say where each Vikings offensive lineman will be in 2021. But it doesn’t hurt to make an early prediction. Here’s a starting lineup that I think the team could use next season:
In this scenario, the Vikings move Cleveland to left tackle. He started as a right guard last season, but could be ready to play on the outside. Cleveland played tackle in college and with Riley Reiff out, it makes sense to place him here.
Cole gets the initial nod to the left guard. I think, as of now, he’s one of the best offensive linemen on the team. It fits what Minnesota is trying to do with its offensive line scheme. He could have an easier time guarding with the Vikings than centering with the Cardinals.
Nothing too surprising here. I think Minnesota is sticking with Bradbury, a player who was inconsistent in 2020 but also improved from the previous season. He’s still under contract, so I think this is an easy pick.
I don’t see Dru Samia getting the initial go-ahead as a right guard after 2020, but maybe he’ll make big strides. If I had to pick someone on the Vikings roster currently to fill this void, I’d say it has to be Hinton.
That said, the most likely scenario is that the team will land a starting guard in the NFL draft. I think this position will be up in the air for quite some time, unless the team uses a first-round pick on a guard and that player is a good fit for the league.
Similar to Bradbury’s central location, this is also a fairly easy option. O’Neill is arguably the Vikings’ best offensive lineman. I think the team should keep him at right tackle in 2021. Moving him to the left side risks him not being that good. The fact that O’Neill is left tackle also adds to his value in free agency.