The Vikings could be on guard this offseason.
With Steve Hutchinson struggling with injuries the last two seasons and Anthony Herrera also knocked out of the lineup last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, one of the underplayed offseason focuses of the team is expected to be at guard. That also makes sense given new head coach Leslie Frazier's stated commitment to the running game in general and Adrian Peterson in particular.
Not only do the Vikings have a new offensive coordinator (Bill Musgrave) and new offensive line coach (Bill Davidson), but they could have a new competition for the starting spot at right guard.
Two potential candidates are Florida State's Rodney Hudson and Lehigh's Will Rackley.
Davidson was one of the two teams running the offensive line drills at Hudson's pro day and Davidson also attended the pro day for Rackley.
Hudson was a unanimous first-team All-American guard for the Seminoles in 2010 as well as being a first-team All-ACC choice three straight years. He also won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy his final two years and was a candidate for the Outland Trophy.
But, despite all those honors, Hudson is considered a second-round pick and it could have to do with his weight. He was undersized in college, playing at about 285 pounds and has been steadily increasing his frame throughout the offseason. He doesn't have far to go.
"A lot of people wanted me to gain weight and get bigger. I did that," said Hudson, who weighed in at 299 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I got a lot bigger. Just got to keep growing and get better."
At the Senior Bowl he weighed 291 pounds. At Florida State, he played at around 285 pounds. In the NFL, he believes that 300 to 305 pounds would be a good playing weight, but he's also cognizant that not all weight is good.
"You gotta keep active, too. Just can't eat and throw it on. I've been doing a lot of eating, but also been doing a lot of lifting and things like that," he said. "… This is my size. I can do my job and grow more, but I'm not concerned."
He may have been considered undersized at FSU – something he says his offensive line coach wanted – but he is said to be solid in his technique. During his four-year career, Hudson started 47 games and had been penalized only once in his first three years as a starter while being credited with giving up only 1.5 sacks.
He listed a couple of his strengths that contributed to his success.
"My knowledge of the game. I study football a lot," Hudson said. "As far as athletically, my quickness and my hands."
While all 47 starts at Florida State came at guard, there is some consideration that Hudson might be better suited for the center position in the NFL. Davidson was front and center at Florida State's pro day earlier this week, so they will have a good idea on his abilities there or if he could be a starting guard for them in the near future.
As for Rackley, the Lehigh offensive lineman wrote in his blog that about half of the NFL teams were represented at his pro day, and the Vikings were one of only about seven teams to have their offensive line coach present.
Rackley played tackle in 2010, but he projects to a guard in the NFL. At Lehigh, he started 40 consecutive games and was a two-time All-Patriot League first-team honoree.
While the Vikings appear to have more pressing needs, interior linemen are on their radar.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings investigate guard possibilities
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