Vikings draft preview: Offensive linemen

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 16, 2013 - 8:26 AM

Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel is expected to go No. 1 overall to Kansas City.

The hot topic: A right time for left tackles?

The Chargers have the 11th pick and a need at left tackle in a draft that has three elite players at that particular position.

No problem, right? Well, not exactly. The Chargers actually might have to trade up to get one of them in the draft's first round on April 25.

Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel is expected to go No. 1 overall to Kansas City. If the Lions use the fifth pick on Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher rather than Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, the Cardinals most likely would complete the run on available franchise left tackles by taking Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson at No. 7.

That’s not to say the rest of the first round won’t produce its share of future offensive line starters. Strength at right tackle and guard could stretch the total number of first-round offensive linemen to seven or eight.

National champion Alabama will have two offensive linemen taken in the first round. D.J. Fluker, a 6-5, 339-pound right tackle, could go No. 12 to Miami, which will move right tackle Jonathan Martin to left tackle to replace the departed Jake Long. Meanwhile, Alabama’s Chance Warmack, a dominant run-blocking guard, might go earlier than No. 12. Tennessee, which still is looking to beef up the interior of its line, could take Warmack at No. 10. North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper also is an option if he’s still available.

THE FRONT-RUNNER

Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Joeckel is similar in size (6-6, 306), agility, foot speed and character to Matt Kalil, the fourth overall pick of the Vikings a year ago. But in a draft that’s virtually devoid of quarterbacks, Joeckel rockets to the top of the pile. Like Kalil coming out of Southern California, Joeckel isn’t known for his run blocking. Then again, which left tackle ever is? Joeckel is a willing run blocker and will get better as he improves his strength to the NFL level.

THE CONTENDERS

Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said Joeckel, Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson are so tightly bunched that it’s “splitting hairs” to pick the best one. Fisher (6-7, 306) should end up protecting either Detroit’s Matthew Stafford or Arizona’s Carson Palmer.

D.J. Fluker, Alabama

His full name is Danny Lee Jesus Fluker. And he’s without a doubt a right tackle. At 6-5, 339 pounds — 61 fewer than he tipped the scales at as an eighth-grader — he’s a run-blocking mauler.

Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

Power, athleticism and foot speed supposedly make up for Cooper being on the shorter side (6-2). A four-year starter at left guard, Cooper could go No. 8 to Buffalo, which lost Andy Levitre via free agency.

THE SLEEPER

Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific

Nobody has been drafted from this NAIA school since the Chiefs took running back Christian Okoye in the second round in 1987. But the 6-8, 315-pound Marquardt, a promising left tackle prospect, has drawn a lot of attention from NFL scouts. He projects as a possible Day 3 selection. It helps that he has been coached by Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Jackie Slater.

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    Where is the best offensive lineman and who will get him? Dan Wiederer and Mark Craig analyze the draft.

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    Tuesday April 16, 2013

    Why re-signing the right tackle was a top priority and what's next in the development of guard Brandon Fusco.

  • Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel might be the No. 1 overall draft pick when the Kansas City Chiefs make their selection.

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Miami - LP: M. Dunn 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 3
Arizona - WP: T. Cahill 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop 5
San Francisco 12 Bottom 11th Inning
Colorado 8
Texas - WP: M. Perez 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 0
Houston - LP: J. Fields 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Rodney 5
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 1
LA Angels 0 Top 2nd Inning
Washington 0
Kansas City 2 Top 2nd Inning
Cleveland 0
Baltimore 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Toronto 0
Chicago WSox 2 Top 2nd Inning
Detroit 0
St. Louis 1 Bottom 1st Inning
NY Mets 0
Minnesota 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
NY Yankees 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Boston 1
San Diego - T. Ross 7:10 PM
Milwaukee - K. Lohse
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Charlotte 13 1st Qtr 3:29
Miami 17
Dallas 7:00 PM
San Antonio
Portland 8:30 PM
Houston
Pittsburgh 1 1st Prd 9:43
Columbus 0
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Chicago
Houston 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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