Year after year under the previous regime, the Vikings drafted an offensive lineman within the first few rounds. Not even the blocker they took in the second round, LSU guard Ed Ingram, expected the Vikings to take a sixth straight swing on a first-, second- or third-round offensive lineman. Ingram said he only spoke with team evaluators during a formal interview at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"Other than that, I haven't talked to them at all," Ingram said. "So, it caught me off guard when I got the call."

So it goes for a Vikings offense that has started 17 different guards over the past six seasons and now has a new coaching staff led by head coach Kevin O'Connell, who brings a playbook that asks their linemen to do things differently. First-time General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah leaned on those coaches and "o-line guru" Ryan Grigson, a new senior adviser, to help pinpoint their latest additions.

Ingram was the first of two offensive linemen drafted by the Vikings; sixth-round tackle Vederian Lowe out of Illinois followed. As a second-round pick, Ingram will be expected to catch on quickly. Jamaal Stephenson, co-director of player personnel, said he expects a smooth transition for Ingram, who made 34 starts at both guard spots for LSU, often against top-flight college defensive lines in the SEC.

"RG has this term whenever an offensive lineman has good feet, he calls them Fred Astaire feet," Adofo-Mensah said of Grigson, the former Colts general manager. "So I was watching Ingram and texted RG, 'Did he get to Fred Astaire?' Yeah, I'm getting soft in my old age. [Ingram] should have, but [Grigson] said he was just a cut below.'"

The Vikings don't need their blockers to be as fleet of foot in O'Connell's offense as they were in the Gary Kubiak wide-zone schemes, but evaluators said Ingram offers the blend of movement and power that'll be required of linemen in the new run plays. Perhaps most importantly for quarterback Kirk Cousins, Ingram was the top-rated pass blocking guard in the SEC last season by Pro Football Focus.

Ingram isn't the biggest 6-foot-3 guard – weighing in at 307 pounds at the NFL scouting combine – but said he prides himself on clearing lanes.

"I've always been dominant in the run game," Ingram said. "I feel like I'm a natural mauler."

Vikings scouts prioritized more of the bully-blocker type for O'Connell's "mid-zone" run schemes, which won't ask running backs to aim as wide as they did under Kubiak's.

"It has changed a little bit," national scout Chisom Opara said. "Last year we were more of a wide-zone team. It kind of puts an emphasis on guys who can run laterally and get to the sideline, cut people off. Now we're more of a mid-zone team, where you want guys with that footwork. But you also want guys with some dent, as we call it, who can move guys off the ball and play downhill when we want to move the ball in the run game."

Ingram will have company in competing for the right guard job this summer.

In free agency, the Vikings signed two veterans with more than 2,000 snaps as NFL guards in Jesse Davis and Chris Reed, and another with more than 500 snaps in Austin Schlottmann. They join holdovers Oli Udoh, last year's starter, and Wyatt Davis, a 2021 third-round pick.

"It's going to be a deep room," Stephenson said, "and that's all we're trying to do here is just to bring in competition and may the best man win."

A revolving door at guard

Seventeen different guards have started regular-season games for the Vikings over the past six years. The last Vikings interior offensive lineman to earn a Pro Bowl nod was Steve Hutchinson in 2009.

2016: Alex Boone, Jeremiah Sirles, Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco

2017: Nick Easton, Danny Isidora, Jeremiah Sirles, Mike Remmers

2018: Tom Compton, Danny Isidora, Mike Remmers

2019: Pat Elflein, Josh Kline, Dakota Dozier, Aviante Collins

2020: Dakota Dozier, Dru Samia, Ezra Cleveland, Brett Jones

2021: Ezra Cleveland, Oli Udoh, Mason Cole