Coming off of a thrilling 13-3 season, the Minnesota Vikings already had a well-rounded, deep roster heading into the 2018 season. By the time the first wave of free agency had come and gone, the team had landed top free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, hoping to bring stability and elite play to a position that has been in constant flux since Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton retired in 1978.
Other moves have made it apparent that the team is looking to move all of their chips in for the near-future, and with $84 million devoted to Cousins, Minnesota will be looking to protect their investment. Fortunately for them, an ideal prospect, former Georgia guard and tackle Isaiah Wynn, could fall to them at pick 30 of the first round when the NFL Draft begins at the end of April. At 6’3″ and 313 pounds, he likely projects as a guard at the next level with the flexibility to move outside if needed.
Why the Minnesota Vikings Should Strongly Consider Isaiah Wynn
He Would Fill One of the Few Open Starting Spots Left
Outside of the arrival of Cousins and second-year running back Dalvin Cook returning after missing a torn ACL, the Vikings starting lineup will only have one spot that will not be returning last season’s starter. That vacancy will be left by former lineman Joe Berger, who was the team’s starting right guard in 2017 after seven years sliding around the line. Berger was ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 23rd overall guard last season, but at 35 decided to retire after 13 seasons. Berger was solid in the run and pass game, and Wynn proved his worth in both areas while in college.
His Athleticism Fits the Offense
Sometimes a team’s need and a player of that positional need don’t match up. Teams look for different body and skill types. With new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings are sure to keep their scheme similar in 2017. Under former coordinator Pat Shurmur, Minnesota ran a zone-blocking scheme that stressed athleticism from their linemen. Wynn fits this perfectly, consistently pulling and making blocks to set up sweeps and off-tackle runs in college.
With Cousins under center, the team will need to continue keeping the quarterback clean in 2018, and Wynn excelled in college as a tackle. In space, he used his combination of athleticism and power to get his hands on and wall off rushers. He also showed strong awareness in pass protection, recognizing stunts and twists, and passing his old assignments off before picking up new rushers.
Wynn will likely move inside in the NFL, but if the team were to be in a pinch, he brings versatility that Zimmer likes in his linemen. Wynn played both guard spots prior to his senior season in 2017 when he slid to left tackle for all 15 games. And even though every NFL team’s dream is for a healthy roster for all 16 games in a season, injuries hit every team to some degree.
This is perhaps truer for the offensive line than any other position group. Most teams only dress seven or eight total linemen on game day. One injury can shuffle an entire group, as the Vikings did many times in 2017. Eight different linemen started over the course of the season. Right tackle Mike Remmers moved to right guard as Berger slid to left guard following the season-ending injury of Nick Easton beginning in week 17. Wynn’s experience and athleticism would make him not only a stop-gap solution but a potential long-term answer over the course of the season if plans change.
When Would the Vikings Potentially Make a Move on Wynn?
Wynn has been projected as high as a mid-first round pick and likely wouldn’t last past the early portion of the second round. There are many talented interior offensive linemen available in this year’s draft, so it would be unlikely for general manager Rick Spielman to move up drastically to grab Wynn. But Spielman has proven to be unpredictable in the past, so a potential trade to the early 20s to snag Wynn isn’t off the table either. He would almost surely be plugged in as a starting guard going into training camp, lining up next to second-year center Pat Elflein to give Minnesota a young but strong core to build around as they enter their championship window.