Jeff Baca to the Vikings: How Does the Guard Fit with Minnesota?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman worked some of his draft-day magic yet again (via 1500espn.com). In a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Spielman moved back seven spots in the sixth round and regained the seventh-round pick he traded to the New England Patriots.
With the 196th pick in the draft the Vikings selected UCLA offensive lineman Jeff Baca. A versatile player for the Bruins, he played both guard and both tackle positions.
From his profile at UCLA, the all-state left tackle started eight games as a freshment for the Bruins in 2008. The following season, he moved inside and started all 13 games as a sophomore.
Due to academic issues, he was declared ineligible and missed the entire 2010 season. Upon making his return, he broke his ankle during 2011 spring workouts. Even though it required surgery, Baca only missed one game that season.
New Vikings OL Jeff Baca was a pre-med major, became academically ineligible, switched to poli-sci, made honor roll.— Dan Wiederer (@StribDW) April 27, 2013
As a senior he played guard, tackle and even made one start at center in the Holiday Bowl against Baylor. He was named to the second-team, All-Pac-12 following the season.
His weakness may be his size, thus he will definitely move inside to play guard. He makes up for that with his aggressiveness. NFL.com evaluated him as a tenacious blocker and compares him to the San Francisco 49ers' Daniel Kilgore, an interior lineman who was drafted in the fifth round out of Appalachian State in the 2011 draft.
At 6'3" and 302 pounds, he is the same size as current starting guard Charlie Johnson—the person he will most likely replace in the next couple of years.
Because of his versatility, Baca will make the active roster, most likely opening up as one of the main backups along with Joe Berger. As he gets the hang of the NFL game, don't be surprised if Baca's playing time increases as the season progresses.
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