The Vikings added three offensive linemen with 15 picks during the NFL draft, filling out the initial list of candidates for what General Manager Rick Spielman anticipates to be a “wide-open” race this summer at both guard spots whenever the team is allowed on the field.
Openings were created this offseason with the release of right guard Josh Kline, and left guard Pat Elflein’s continued struggles last season in Year 3. The Vikings drafted left tackle Ezra Cleveland in the second round, tackle/guard Blake Brandel in the sixth round and guard Kyle Hinton in the seventh round.
“The coaches will figure out who’s our best five,” Spielman said Saturday. “We’re excited about [Garrett] Bradbury, [Brian] O’Neill and Riley Reiff holding down the fort on the left side until we see what we have, but it’s going to be a wide-open competition at the interior spots — the two guard spots.”
Reiff has started at left tackle for three seasons, but the Vikings drafting his replacement in Cleveland starts the clock on a potential move. Vikings coaches considered moving Reiff to guard last year, and it’s possible he ends up there should Cleveland be a quick study in 2020. Spielman expressed optimism about the development of second-year linemen in guard Dru Samia and tackle Oli Udoh.
“Some of the young guys we drafted last year, coaches are also extremely high on,” Spielman said. “When you watch [Udoh] in that last game against Chicago, he played really, really well.”
‘Pick his brain’
Linebacker Troy Dye named Anthony Barr when asked at the scouting combine about his favorite NFL linebackers to watch. That was two months before the Vikings drafted Dye in the fourth round (132nd overall). Dye, a fellow Californian like Barr, wants to learn how Barr transitioned from 3-4 edge rusher to outside linebacker. The Oregon Ducks’ tackling leader at inside linebacker, Dye said he’s bracing for a move should he also be asked to move to outside linebacker because of his thinner build.
“I’m going to be able to pick his brain and really get to know what he does and why he does it,” Dye said, “because he was a transition guy in college like I was.”
QB Stanley fits in
The Vikings competed with at least three NFL teams for former Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, whom they was drafted in the seventh round (244th overall). Stanley said those teams wanted to sign him as an undrafted free agent, but Spielman’s stockpile of late-round picks was used to secure players like Stanley who would’ve been a priority to sign after the draft.
Stanley hopes for a smooth transition: “A lot of their concepts are very similar. O-Obviously, I’ll know more as I dive into the playbook, this is really just my first introduction.”
• The Vikings agreed to an undrafted contract with former Texas A&M receiver Quartney Davis on Saturday night, according to him.
• Spielman expects to have 12 draft picks for 2021, including projected compensatory picks, after adding two more on Saturday via trades.
• Fifth-round receiver K.J. Osborn is a criminal justice major who envisions an FBI career someday: “I like to take risks, want to go in there and save lives.”