To count down the days until Vikings rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans report to Mankato on July 23, we will reveal our ranking of the 17 most important Vikings players heading into the 2017 season. Look for the next player on our list every weekday morning at Access Vikings.
This list, created by Matt Vensel and Andrew Krammer, is not a ranking of the best players on the team, though sheer talent is obviously an essential factor. It is a ranking of the players whose upcoming season will have the biggest impact on the franchise, whether it’s in 2017 or beyond.
Coming in at No. 3 on our list is right tackle Mike Remmers.
Mike Remmers returns to the Vikings with 35 consecutive starts under his belt. He’ll need even more to help fix a dire situation.
The Vikings signed Remmers to a five-year, $30 million contract in free agency, 2.5 years after he was cut following camp in Mankato. He was one of the front office’s two answers, along with ex-Lion Riley Reiff, to a tackle problem that anchored the Vikings offense to mediocrity last season.
Will the Vikings see its money’s worth from the league’s 11th-highest paid right tackle this season?
First of all, the fact Remmers has played without interruption is an upgrade. The Vikings shuffled through five starting tackles last season after torn muscles and tendons sent three of them to injured reserve. Remmers has only sat out a couple snaps (out of 2,000+) in two years as a starter for the Carolina Panthers.
Remmers’ impressive rise from undrafted practice squad player to starter came in Carolina’s run-heavy offense. That’s where he’s expected to give the Vikings, with last year’s 32nd-ranked run game, the biggest boost in front of second-round pick Dalvin Cook. The Panthers’ 113.4 rushing yards per game ranked 10th last season.
Pass protection is where the Vikings might want to see Remmers continue to grow. Albeit, he was tested too often in Carolina. Cam Newton likes to hold the ball in the Panthers’ vertical attack, evident when the Vikings sacked him eight times in last year’s win. Remmers was pegged with a league-leading nine sacks allowed last season, according to Pro Football Focus, tying him with five other tackles, including T.J. Clemmings.
If Remmers can bring a punch to the run game and hold up long enough for Sam Bradford, the Vikings offense has a much better chance of rebounding in 2017.
The Star Tribune’s ranking of the 17 most important Vikings in 2017:
3. Mike Remmers, RT
11. Trae Waynes, CB
16. Pat Elflein, C/G