INDIANAPOLIS —- The Vikings and 31 other NFL teams are eyeing up offensive linemen at the combine today. They just got to watch a bunch of 300-pounders run the 40-yard dash, which might not be all that useful to some teams but it does make for some quality entertainment for us.
After the offensive line struggled for much of last season, the Vikings will look to upgrade there this offseason, and the draft is probably the best way to do it. There doesn't seem to be an elite, top-10 line prospect in this year's draft, but that could work out well for the Vikings, who might be in position to pick the lineman of their choice at No. 11, if they are interested in that sort of thing.
General Manager Rick Spielman said a couple of days ago, though, that he likes the depth in this offensive line class, which is highlighted by potential first-round picks such as Iowa's Brandon Scherff, LSU’s La’El Collins, Miami’s Ereck Flowers and Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings.
Scherff, who ran the 40 in 5.05 seconds, didn't hurt his stock while participating in drills today. But he did hurt his hamstring, apparently tweaking it in a movement drill and is done for the day.
Flowers impressed on the bench yesterday, pumping out 37 reps, tops among offensive linemen.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you which of those guys is the better prospect, because I can't say I have watched them play much. But it seems like the real draftniks have their personal favorites out of the group. On NFL Network this morning, Mike Mayock compared Scherff to Cowboys Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin and Daniel Jeremiah believes Collins is the most impressive of the group.
A couple of linemen outside of the first-round conversation have impressed the draftniks, too.
Florida State's Cam Erving is a player that Spielman mentioned yesterday. The Seminoles moved him from offensive tackle to center this past season, and he tested well here in Indy. ESPN's Todd McShay tweeted that Erving reminds him of former Vikings center Matt Birk, so there's that.
Hobart's Ali Marpet was viewed as a sleeper prospect heading into the combine, but I doubt anyone is snoozing on him anymore. Marpet, a Div. III All-American who projects as a guard, had the best 40 time among linemen at 4.98, but his impressive 10-yard split of 1.74 seconds is even more relevant.
These results are just part of the puzzle for the Vikings as they evaluate prospects. The results often confirm what they saw on tape. If they don't match up, they'll go back and take another look.
I think it's safe to say the offensive line is a high-priority need for the Vikings. They need a new starting left guard and they might also draft a tackle to compete with Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt.