MANKATO, Minn. — If you’re watching the Vikings this preseason, you may see a new No. 63 at guard get some extended playing time.
Fifth-round pick Danny Isidora has made a strong impression in the early going, even moving his way into the first-team lineup at right guard. That position has lately been a carousel, still led by veteran Joe Berger, but including Isidora, T.J. Clemmings and even both centers Pat Elflein and Nick Easton.
“I’ve been impressed with Isidora the whole time he’s been here,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “I was telling someone of who he reminds me of last night, but I won’t say his name. He’s got wide, thick lower body, good movement, he’s good out in space. I think he’s done a nice job. I have a lot of hopes for him.”
Isidora (6-3, 306 pounds) was a three-year starter at right guard for the Miami Hurricanes. The Vikings took him with the 180th-overall pick this spring, and could use another late-round surprise. The years are stacking up since Minnesota drafted and developed former Vikings Brandon Fusco (2011) and John Sullivan (2008) into starters.
What first strikes you about Isidora is his size at 23 years old. He looks the part of NFL guard already, especially when you see him get moving and run after a defensive back on a pulling assignment. He’ll need to do more of that when the Vikings open the preseason Aug. 10 in Buffalo.
Isidora could provide a needed push for an unsettled Vikings offensive line with 16 players at camp competing for, typically, nine spots on the 53-man roster.
“Danny is doing well,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “The important thing for us, as you know, is we’re really good up front on defense. For us to blend some of those guys we’re developing in with the [starters] is a way for us to see them against our better players. I think he held up and did a decent job. Again, we have a month and a couple days so he has to just keep climbing with that development.”