Note: With the NFL draft complete, we'll spend the next five days taking a closer look at six of the Vikings' third-day picks. Today we profile sixth-round pick DeMarcus Love, an offensive tackle from Arkansas.
DeMarcus Love stayed on the move as a senior offensive tackle at Arkansas last season.
The Vikings sixth-round pick rotated from left tackle to right tackle, often times from play to play.
“Every other play or series I lined up at each because I was a ‘weak side tackle,’” he said. “I played the opposite side of the tight end.”
That kind of versatility marked Love’s college career. He started 26 games at left tackle and 11 more games at guard at Arkansas. NFL teams always look for linemen who have position flexibility because there are only so many roster spots available. Players increase their value by being able to play multiple positions.
“Love gives us an opportunity to get a potential swing tackle,” Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said. “He’s played both on the left and right side. He was a weak-side tackle down at Arkansas so you see him play on both sides. You see the position flexibility that he does have.”
Love (6-4, 315 pounds) was a two-time captain at Arkansas and a first-team all-SEC selection as a senior.
Many thought the Vikings should use an early-round pick on an offensive tackle to push Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt and possibly become McKinnie's eventual replacement. It's highly unlikely that Love will replace either player this season but he should give the Vikings some much-needed depth at tackle.
“You see him left and the next play he’s on the right side,” Spielman said. “Maybe he’s three plays back on the left, three plays back on the right. So you see him during the game, going back and forth, left, right, left, right. That’s one thing that was very appealing to us: Big guy with athletic skills, that likes to run block, but can play multiple positions.”
Love said his run blocking is ahead of his pass-blocking skills at this point. He also said he is equally comfortable playing either side and that versatility is his strength as a player.
“You can slot me in at guard or tackle, either side, it wouldn’t matter,” he said.
Love played right tackle at the Senior Bowl, but he admitted he didn’t have the best showing at that event.
“I don’t feel like that was my best performance, but at the same time I don’t feel like you should judge anybody off just one event,” he said. “I don’t think the Senior Bowl was good for me. I played in the Senior Bowl in January and I’ve learned a lot from it and I’ve been working on things to correct, the things I made mistakes on.”
Spielman acknowledged that Love struggled at times during the Senior Bowl week, but he said the team felt confident in Love after evaluating the “whole puzzle.”
“It’s part of the process piece,” Spielman said. “We had a good visit with him down at the Senior Bowl and I think that pays dividends when we have all of our coaches down there. Our coaches get a chance to sit with these kids, get a chance to talk to them. How well is this guy going to learn? What type of character is he? Is he the type of guy that we want on our football team? He had some rough moments down there at the Senior Bowl. I’m not going to sit here and lie about that. But that’s just one piece of the whole puzzle when you’re watching ’09 to what he did in 2010 to what he did at the Senior Bowl, combine and so on.”
Read Wednesday's post about fifth-round pick Brandon Burton here.