EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings continued their offensive-line makeover by adding a player who could be a versatile backup.
Minnesota drafted Alabama offensive lineman Austin Shepherd 228th overall, the third tackle the Vikings added on Saturday. The first of two seventh-round selections, Shepherd was a two-year starter at right tackle for Alabama but he moved to guard at the Senior Bowl.
"I kind of came up with the idea," Shepherd said of the position switch. I heard so many people asking if I have ever played guard. Almost every team asked me if I played guard or center, so I told my agent this is what I am going to do, do you think it’s a good idea? He said ‘Yeah, it wouldn’t hurt at all, go ahead and do it.’"
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Shepherd allowed just one sack in 14 starts last season for the Crimson Tide and was named second-team All-Southeastern Conference. According to his Alabama biography sheet, Shepherd missed only seven assignments in 940 snaps last season and had 24 knockdown blocks.
He played in 44 games at Alabama, making 27 starts at right tackle. Minnesota drafted Pittsburgh’s T.J. Clemmings and Oklahoma’s Tyrus Thompson, who both played tackle in college, earlier on Saturday. Shepherd could be seen by the Vikings as a guard. Minnesota is trying to improve its depth along the offensive line and is still seeking a starter at left guard after releasing Charlie Johnson.