With the Minnesota Vikings making big changes in their offense this season, the Vikings' offensive line is going to need to make some big adjustments if they don't want a repeat of last season which left Brett Favre pummeled and Adrian Peterson with little room to run. After the release of Bryant McKinnie, the Vikings filled the spot with Charlie Johnson.
A major key to the Vikings' success this season will come down to whether or not the Vikings' offensive line can protect quarterback Donovan McNabb and make holes for running back Adrian Peterson. Without protection, neither of these two key players will be effective, and the vikings will have a tough time keeping up in the NFC North, which is arguably one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
Head coach Leslie Frazier brought in new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson this season, who has been instructed to install a new head-one blocking scheme rather then the zone scheme that the Vikings have used in previous seasons.
Here is a look at five free agents who could help the Vikings bolster their offensive line this season, which will make them a much stronger team in the NFC North.
Michael Otto is currently in his fourth season and was just released from the Tennessee Titans. This 6'5", 310-pound offensive tackle would add depth to the Vikings' offensive line.
Otto was a solid backup for the Titans and played in 14 games in 2009, though, he did not start in any. Otto has the skill and frame to make the jump to a starting position with some more training. According to an ESPN scouting report, scouts predict that Otto has the potential to add 15-20 pounds of muscle.
Otto is able to leverage blocks and is a smart lineman who understands blocking schemes and is able to keep defenders in front of him.
Mario Henderson is another offensive tackle who could add depth to the Vikings. Henderson is entering his fourth year and was recently released from the Oakland Raiders. Henderson is 6'7" and weighs in at 300 pounds. Henderson has played in 43 games in his last three years.
One thing that Henderson needs to work on is keep defenders from getting to the quarterback. Oakland allowed quarterback Jason Campbell to get sacked 33 times last season. Obviously, not all of those sacks were the fault of Henderson, but he can only improve by lowering this number.
Henderson also has recently gotten in trouble with the law for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit. The Vikings have had trouble with lineman staying out of trouble in the past, most notably the love boat scandal in which Bryant Mckinnie was found on a boat with numerous prostitutes.
Trai Essex is a 6'5", 324-pound guard who can play at any position on the line except center. The 28-year-old was recently released from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Essex is a solid backup who can play in multiple positions. Essex's size allows him to keep players from getting into the back field. A scouting report on Essex reported that he improved on his hand use and has become a better pass and rush blocker.
Essex needs to improve on his explosiveness off the line, but once he locks onto a defender, he can stay with them and force them away.
Cole has a lot of power and is mostly a rush blocker, which would work perfect for the Vikings making holes for Adrian Peterson. He does well with combination blocks and has racked up a number of starts over the years.
Cole needs to work on his agility to move himself to the next level. He has a good amount of raw talent that he needs to utilize to move to a starting position.
Travis Bright was recently released from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. Bright is 6'4", 321-pound guard. Bright is a large guard who does well against both rush and pass blocking schemes. Although he is not the top player to pick up as a free agent, he is a good project for the Vikings to pick up.
Bright has a lot of raw talent and could make for a solid backup in the future, but with better players who have more experience, it is more likely that the Vikings will look to a more experienced lineman rather than going with someone who has less experience.