Projecting which offensive line prospects who blocked in spread offenses at the college level are going to pan out in the pros has in recent years created headaches for NFL scouts and front-office shot-callers.
One NCAA powerhouse, though, that has seen a handful of its offensive linemen successfully transition to the next level is Ohio State, which won a national championship three years ago with a potent spread attack.
The Vikings hope that third-round pick Pat Elflein will be the next one.
In 2013, when Elflein was a redshirt freshman and a backup guard for the Buckeyes, four of the five starting linemen were future NFL starters. Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Taylor Decker all went on to earn starting jobs as rookies when they got to the NFL.
(Their line coach was Ed Warinner, who is now with the Gophers.)
“There’s a lot of my former teammates that have done that. Hats off to them. Those guys are great players. They went into a good situation and played well all year,” Elflein said at rookie camp last weekend. “I’m just coming in and trying to give this team everything I’ve got and whatever happens, if it’s on the field or whatever, that’s why I’m here is to help this team.”
Elflein, whom the Vikings have put at center, said that one of the biggest keys to him being able to start right away will be learning the offense. He got his digital playbook last weekend and said the Vikings scheme and their offensive terminology “is not too much different” from how Ohio State did things. Still, learning a new offense “takes time.”
“Being on the offensive line in general, you’ve got to be a smart player,” he said. “Just getting the offense down and taking those steps mentally is what’s going to probably be my biggest learning point so far.”
That education will continue next week, when Elflein and the rest of the rookies join Vikings veterans for the offseason workout program.