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Vikings officially confirm Shurmur's return, reveal new offensive staff

The Vikings officially confirmed Friday that Pat Shurmur, who took over as the offensive play-caller on an interim basis midway through the 2016 season, will be the team's full-time offensive coordinator in 2017.

The Vikings also revealed the reshuffled offensive coaching staff that will support Shurmur and will hopefully give the Vikings a potent offense for the first time in Mike Zimmer's tenure. They ranked in the bottom six in the league in total yards in each of his three years as head coach.

Kevin Stefanski will coach the quarterbacks after Scott Turner, who had played a significant role in the development of Teddy Bridgewater, was let go after three years here. Stefanski was the assistant quarterbacks coach for the Vikings from 2009 to 2013 before serving as tight ends coach in 2014 and 2015. Last season, Stefanski coached their running backs.

With Stefanski again shifting roles, the Vikings hired Kennedy Polamalu, the former UCLA offensive coordinator, as their new running backs coach. Polamalu, who played fullback collegiately at USC, was the offensive coordinator at UCLA for only the 2016 season and was not retained. He coached at the NFL level from 2004 to 2009, overseeing the running backs in Cleveland in 2004 then coaching the same position in Jacksonville.

Another new addition to the offensive staff is Clancy Barone, who worked for the Broncos from 2009 to 2016, alternating stints as either the tight ends coach or offensive line coach. Barone was in charge of their line when the Broncos won last year's Super Bowl. He'll coach tight ends here.

Tony Sparano will return as offensive line coach. But FOX Sports reported Saturday morning that his assistant, Hank Fraley, will be leaving Minnesota to join UCLA’s staff as their headoffensive line coach.

Meanwhile, Zimmer's entire defensive staff will remain intact for 2017.

Kiper: Top offensive tackle options slim in upcoming NFL draft

Should the Vikings look to this spring’s NFL Draft to rebuild at offensive tackle, one analyst doesn’t see many top options.

“It’s not a great year at all,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Probably a mediocre year for offensive tackles in general.”

A consistent failure to protect the edges for quarterback Sam Bradford and a limited run game partially stemmed from the Vikings losing both starting tackles to injury by the season’s fifth game.

Moving forward, the Vikings can restart with only a few tackles – T.J. Clemmings, Willie Beavers and Rashod Hill — currently under contract for the 2017 season. Four in Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Jake Long and Jeremiah Sirles are pending free agents.

And Kiper doesn’t see many tackles flying off draft boards before the Vikings’ first scheduled pick in the second round. Minnesota’s 14th-overall selection sits with the Eagles after the September trade to acquire Bradford.

“The first round is only going to have, I think, three offensive tackles,” Kiper said. “That would be Cam Robinson, Alabama, Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, and Garett Bolles from Utah.”

The lack of top options, in Kiper’s assessment, stands in contrast to last year’s draft when three tackles were selected within the first 13 picks – and five overall in the first round. Five tackles were also taken in 2015′s first round.

If the Vikings stand pat and don’t jump back into the first round, which is doable with five picks between rounds two and four, Kiper pinpointed a few potential second-round and third-round picks along the offensive line in Temple’s Dion Dawkins, Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton and Troy’s Antonio Garcia.

Moton started at both right tackle and right guard for Western Michigan under newly-hired Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck.

“I think those three Dawkins, Moton and Garcia would be in that second and third round area who could be really nice players,” Kiper said. “I think Moton’s versatility really is a plus and I thought Dawkins and Garcia graded out well.”

As the Vikings approach a crossroads with star Adrian Peterson, who is under contract for an unrealistic $18 million, they’ll also need help at running back where recent standouts from Arizona’s David Johnson to Chicago’s Jordan Howard were taken with mid-round picks.

“There’s great depth at running back pretty much every year,” Kiper said. “None of the final four teams in the NFL right now have a running back on the field who went in the first round that’s making a key contribution. Of the 12 playoff teams, 11 of them didn’t have a running back that went in the first round.”

Final, 2/7 1 2 3 4 F
Carolina 0 7 0 3 10
Denver 10 3 3 8 24

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