Vikings 2015 draft preview: Offensive tackle
On the roster
Minnesota remains status-quo at this position, and for good reason. Right tackle Phil Loadholt returns after missing the final five games with a torn pectoral muscle. He’ll remain the rock on the right side and is signed through the 2016 season. Loadholt is steady and the Vikings trust him on the right side.
For all of the negative attention left tackle Matt Kalil received last year, Minnesota will, and should, give him another year to prove himself. Kalil is a former No. 4 overall draft pick and showed his talent in his rookie season. Perhaps the knee injury from 2013 was still bothering him, or his confidence was gone — or both. But Kalil faces an important season in 2015 and should be given a chance to redeem himself. If he fails again, the Vikings will start looking for a replacement.
Potentially, Kalil and Loadholt are a very good bookend tandem. Reality is neither played to his capability last year as the offensive line struggled. But the two are talented players and give Minnesota hope for a strong set of tackles. Kalil enters the final year of his rookie contract and the Vikings will have to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. Adding the extra year and a return to form from Kalil and Loadholt could give Minnesota security on the outside of the line in protecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Mike Harris returns as the swing tackle. He’s an experienced, capable backup. He started five games last year in place of Loadholt. The Vikings also have a project and possible future starter in Antonio Richardson, who missed all of last year after surgeries on both knees. Richardson spent last year rehabbing and getting stronger. Richardson is talented, but the questions of the big tackle (6-foot-6, 330 pounds) have always been about his knees.
Minnesota has Austin Wentworth and Carter Bykowski back as depth options. The one change at the position is a big one, as in 6-foot-9, 351-pound Babatunde Oyegbusi. Oyegbusi has only been playing football for four years and is a project coming from Poland and never having played college football. But his size alone makes for an intriguing prospect.
Last five offensive tackles drafted
Philosophy at the position
Kalil will determine how Minnesota approaches the draft in regards to the tackle position. While the draft doesn’t have some of the elite tackle talent that has usually been in top-five consideration in recent years, there is depth. The Vikings will give Kalil another year to figure things out and likely won’t dip into the draft to try and find a replacement — at least not this year.
Kalil and Loadholt are set as the starters, and Minnesota appears to have options behind them. If the Vikings do add at the position, it would likely be a flyer on a Day 3 selection or a tackle who could make the transition to guard.
As many as five tackles could be selected in the first round and the order varies depending on the analyst in regards to LSU’s La’El Collins, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings, Miami’s Ereck Flowers and possibly Florida’s D.J. Humphries.
Peat is a prototypical left tackle, with good size, strength and quick feet. He’s started 27 games the past two seasons for Stanford and started next to Minnesota’s David Yankey in 2013. Peat was a second-team All-American last year and Outland Trophy semifinalist.
With his size and strength, Peat could play right tackle in the NFL. With his quickness and technique, he could fit in as a left tackle. A team drafting Peat in the top half of the first round will likely be looking for him to play on the left side.
The next in the line of Texas A&M tackles in the NFL after Jake Matthews was drafted sixth last year and Luke Joeckel went second in 2013. Ogbuehi also brings versatility. He’s a three-year starter while playing right guard, right tackle and left tackle. Ogbuehi is athletic and long arms, but is probably best at run blocking. He’ll likely play on the right side in the NFL, either at tackle or guard.
Sambrailo started most of his four seasons with Colorado State, including all 25 games he played the past two seasons. Versatility is the key as he’s played four different positions along the line, according to his draft page on NFL.com. Sambrailo has a big body but needs to get stronger, not unlike many Day 3 offensive line prospects.
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