Kalil has demonstrated all the fundamental skills that made him the (near) consensus pick for Minnesota.
While he still has some scheme/assignment pickup issues that he and Charlie Johnson—as well as the rest of the line—are hammering out, he's been solid in the fundamental pass protection skills needed to keep Ponder upright.
The only sacks Kalil gave up in the preseason were scheme errors, which bodes well, as those should be the easiest to resolve.
He continues to drive his feet on running plays and keeps his head on a swivel in pass protection. He's been displaying more as a pass protector than as a run blocker, but he's reliable in both.
All indications are that he's where he needs to be. Grade: A-
Originally signed as a guard, Johnson was pressed into tackle duty when former left tackle Bryant McKinnie was cut. His biggest weakness is edge rushers, which are a much bigger problem for tackles than guards.
While Johnson is not without mistakes, he clearly excels as a guard more than anything else. He has good footwork in limited space and pulls better than any other lineman on the roster.
He doesn't get backed up as easily in the guard position as he did in the tackle position, and it's clear his technique relies on the natural limitations endemic to the limited space fit for the interior of the line.
He does OK in run blocking and is a good pass protector as well. He gave up a few significant pressures, but most of the errors were not skills-oriented.
They were assignment-oriented.
This is less of an excuse for Johnson than Kalil, as he should have learned the inside zone assignments while as a tackle—even if he was not meant to play a guard. Still, these mistakes will eliminate themselves as the season progresses. Grade: B
One of the most underrated centers in the league, Sullivan did not help his Pro Bowl case too much in the preseason. Some interior pressure given up through his blocking, missed run assignments and miscommunications along the line were surprising problems.
He still did well to get up into the second level, but Sullivan did not play to his ability.
That's not to discount his body of work or his natural ability. Sullivan will outperform his preseason games during the regular season and only performed below expectations, not below average.
He fits well into the blocking scheme for the Vikings, and navigates it well. He can call adjustments and directs the line superbly, especially on runs.
He's still one of the best centers in the game, but must prove it for more than one season. Grade: A-
Fusco is a much more physical than technical guard, but his strength has served him well. He plays through the snap and very well looks like he would have earned the starting spot over Schwartz had Schwartz been given a full opportunity to compete.
He shoots out well and can catch defenders on their heels. He still needs to work on his footwork, and is much more useful on stretch plays or runs between the tackles than on pulling plays and screens.
His development over the past year has been remarkable nevertheless, and he may become the pride of Slippery Rock.
Fusco still has work to do maintaining discipline and may be liable for a few penalties, which could certainly kill drives. He also needs to work on reading defensive tackles in order to counter their pass rushing moves, although he will do well against pure bull rushers. Grade: B-
The enormous Loadholt has been a disappointment ever since his strong rookie season. More than that, he's been remarkably inconsistent, with good pass protection one year and excellent run blocking in another year. Improvements in one have been met with regression in another.
The most important area of improvement for Loadholt is his footwork. A large body like his should not be consistently beat with bull rushes, nor should his impressive wingspan allow speed rushers around the edge. In both cases, footwork is the issue.
Awkward footing has been putting him in positions with poor leverage, and he's become a liability in one way or the other. Beyond that, holding and false start penalties have become somewhat of a norm for him.
He's had a fantastic preseason in both areas of his game, but his history implies that his might not necessarily be something to trust.
If Loadholt finds his consistency, he would be the best right tackle in the league, but his inability to focus, lock down and control himself have made him one of the most maddening. Grade: C-
Berger spent time last year as the center when John Sullivan was out, and may have played better than Sullivan at that role. He spent significant time at guard as well, given injuries across the line.
Berger was one of the few bright spots in the offensive line in 2011.
It seems odd that he would come into his own so late in the game, but he certainly played well while the rest of the line around him faltered. He plays well as a swingman and is perfect as a backup to anyone on the interior line.
Berger is a bigger lineman, although it's a bit hard to gauge relative size when he's on the field next to the massive Loadholt and the relatively small Sullivan.
He uses that size well and is best when run blocking. He has good chemistry with those around him and can do well determining how second-level blocks need to be parsed out.
He's a fine pass protector, and his somewhat slow first step is not a problem. He's one of the better backup linemen in the league. Grade: A
A free agent signing from Carolina, Schwartz was adequate in his limited time in Carolina. Unfortunately, his best games were right before he was injured and out for the 2011 season.
While his performance was average, it was stellar for a seventh-round pick and many people were curious about how high is upside was.
Not many people are asking about that potential now, but the Vikings are hoping he reveals it, now one year removed from competitive play.
Schwartz sports hernia makes him difficult to evaluate, but as a backup he should be serviceable. His career speaks to consistency, especially as a pass blocker, and no discipline problems.
His versatility at tackle and guard make him particularly useful, and he also exceeds many of the backups in the league in pure skill. Grade: B+
Asper was a waiver claim the Vikings used that allowed them to cut Pat Brown from the roster. While Brown had been developing slowly—and very poorly—it's hard to see Asper as too much of an upgrade, even if he does bring a little more to the table.
The former Oregon Duck struggled in the Bills camp, and he was projected by many scouts to really only be a fit for zone scheme, given the Ducks' unique blocking assignments.
Schwartz, also a former Duck, seemed to transition fine, but it might take Asper longer simply because he may not hold up sustaining blocks.
Oregon's outside zone-blocking scheme is better suited to stretch plays from players who are better at keeping their head on a swivel than players who lock in, while the Vikings' inside zone-blocking scheme is a little bit different and a little more complex.
This isn't entirely bad news, though. When the Bills cut Asper, a lot of it had to do with scheme and assignment problems in the Bills' much more complicated hybrid blocking system.
The transition from a pure outside zone blocking scheme to an inside scheme is okay, even if major differences lengthen the learning curve.
Regardless, it's hard to see Asper as an immediate upgrade over other Brown. It is very likely that Asper could outperform him by the end of the season, but he doesn't have the scheme or the raw tools down yet. Grade: C
Overall Grade: B
The offensive line is significantly better than last year, if preseason and camp performance is anything to go by. Upgrades at left tackle and right guard have put this offensive line into a position where they've exceeded what one can normally expect of a line, but not by much.