This is the fourth in a series of position previews for the 2020 NFL draft, which runs April 23-25. Read them all here.
THREE NAMES TO KNOW
OT/G Tristan Wirfs, Iowa: This NFL draft class is considered deep at tackle and thin at guard. While the Vikings could use Wirfs at either position, there’s a decent chance he’s drafted much earlier after displaying rare talent throughout his Hawkeyes career and during February’s combine. He led all offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jumps while ranking Top 10 in agility testing. Throw in his dominant production at Iowa since he was a true freshman starter, and Wirfs may not fall out of the draft’s Top 10.
OT Austin Jackson, USC: If the top four offensive tackles — Wirfs, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills — are gone by No. 22, the Vikings could take a big swing on the hyper-athletic, yet unrefined Jackson. He’s got a rare build (6-5, 322 pounds) for a player labeled as one of the quickest big men in this draft; only Wirfs had a faster 10-yard split than Jackson (1.73 seconds) during the combine’s 40-yard dash. Jackson’s quick feet and lateral agility would pair well in the Vikings’ zone-blocking scheme, if they’re open to his development taking some time.
OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn: Wanogho has the size (6-5, 308 pounds) and athleticism to solidify left tackle for years to come. He grew up in Nigeria and played just one year of high school football before becoming the Tigers left tackle for much of three seasons. The Vikings met with Wanogho during February’s combine, using one of 45 official interviews when they likely inquired about his January knee surgery. Billed as having the quickness to be a strong zone blocker, Wanogho is projected to be a Day 2 or early Day 3 target.
OT/G Ben Bartch, St. John’s: Bartch might be the first player drafted from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since 2003. The former tight end added 75 pounds since moving to tackle; that’s a transition made by Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill, who began as a tight end at Pittsburgh. Bartch had strong practices at the Senior Bowl in January before tweaking a knee. He’s only entering his third year at tackle, however, making him a late-round project after setting a promising trajectory in two seasons.
The Vikings chose to keep left tackle Riley Reiff at his $10.9 million salary. Earlier this offseason, coach Mike Zimmer said he was open to Reiff moving to guard, where the team later released Josh Kline to save money. Center Garrett Bradbury, the 2019 first-round pick, is expected to make a leap after struggling at times in his rookie season. Left guard Pat Elflein might have to compete for a roster spot after another disappointing season. Tackle Rashod Hill, guard Dakota Dozier and center Brett Jones were re-signed for depth. The Vikings essentially “redshirted” — Zimmer’s words — guard Dru Samia and tackle Oli Udoh during their 2019 rookie seasons.
VIKINGS' LEVEL OF NEED
High: The Vikings can’t wait long to select a premier player at tackle or guard, and the safe bet is that’s where one of two first-round picks will go. Another tackle class this promising might not come around for a while.