Progress needed from offensive line in 2017

There will be some new faces on the Minnesota Vikings offensive line this year. As many as three new faces could take over starting roles after an offseason overhaul of the position group after a historically bad season in 2016. Left tackle Riley Reiff was acquired via free agency from the Lions, right tackle Mike Remmers agreed to terms with the Vikings after a stint with the Panthers and rookie center Pat Elflien looks to snag a starting role after being a key player along Ohio State’s line the past few seasons.

Minnesota’s offensive line group was ranked 29th out of 32 in the league last year, per Pro Football Focus. The running game held the worst average per rush for a Vikings team in decades while Sam Bradford was constantly running for his life because defenders were easily able to get to him (this makes Bradford’s career year last year even more impressive). The purple and gold made it their number one offseason priority to sure up the offensive line. They went out and were aggressive in free agency signing both Reiff and Remmers to big time contracts.

Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers are upgrades from what the Vikings had last year. But are they huge upgrades like their contracts suggest they are? Riley Reiff is a former first-round draft pick that has shown promise in his career but has also struggled, forcing Detroit to move him to right tackle. The Lions ultimately declined the fifth-year team option on Reiff and let him walk in free agency for a whopping $58 million dollars over five years. Mike Remmers is another question mark. Remmers served as the right tackle for the Carolina Panthers over the past three years. He was a starter the last two and played average football. Remmers managed to receive an offer from Minnesota that was worth $30 million over five years.

Bottom line: Minnesota upgraded their offensive line. But some of these contracts may prove difficult for the team to sign their own guys to extensions in their future. Head Coach Mike Zimmer seems to like what he has seen so far in camp.

“I think these guys are pretty tough guys and I think these guys are smart guys so I believe they will come around, sooner than later.”
Zimmer was then asked specifically about Reiff and raved about his new left tackle.

“He is a smart veteran player that has a lot of physicality. I really like his demeanor. He is going to try to hurt you if he can hurt you and I think that is going to bode well for us moving forward,” Zimmer said.

The jury is still out on if the Vikings will get the bang for their buck along the offensive line. If this unit can be as good as the price tags say they should be, Minnesota should be on their way to a playoff berth in 2017.

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