Vikings work out guard prospect

The Vikings continue their quest to upgrade the offensive line, only this time they investigate what appears to be a late-round or undrafted prospect to develop.

The Vikings' interest in adding a guard was expected, and they are apparently digging deep into the prospects for potential late-round or undrafted free agents.

Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson attended Tennessee's pro day and worked out guard Zach Fulton there.

Fulton, who measured 6-foot-4½ and 316 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, isn't considered a high-round or even mid-round prospect, but the Vikings are doing their homework on numerous prospects, as would be expected with general manager Rick Spielman in charge of the draft.

Fulton started 40 of 47 games for the Volunteers as their right guard.

The Vikings are returning veteran Charlie Johnson and emerging Brandon Fusco as their starting guards, but they also added free agents Vladimir Ducasse and Josh Samuda to the mix. Ducasse started the first four games for the New York Jets last year but lost his starting job after that. Samuda has only one year of NFL experience, in 2012 with the Miami Dolphins. They also have 2013 sixth-round selection Jeff Baca hoping to earn playing time after getting only four snaps on offense last year.

Interestingly, only Ducasse is heavier than Fulton among the Vikings' offensive linemen, and Fulton also measured with 33¼-inch arms and a 78¾-inch wingspan at the Scouting Combine.

"Looks the part with good overall size and mass. Strong enough to anchor in pass protection," wrote about Fulton's strengths. "Flashes thump on contact and ability to down block and seal run lanes. Started 40 games in the SEC and has experience locking horns with NFL-caliber defensive tackles. Has raw traits to develop. Coachable pleaser and will appeal to offensive line coaches. Good teammate."

The drawback, according to the NFL analysis, is that Fulton doesn't come across as having much attitude for the position and should learn how to generate more power with his size.

"Has heavy legs and could stand to improve footwork. Is a soft puncher and tends to overextend," the analysis reads. "Needs to improve grip strength and sustain. Struggles to engage linebackers in space. Awareness is lacking – not ideally suited to shift to center. Struggles to connect with moving targets."

In essence, Fulton appears to be the kind of player with the physical traits to become a lot more than what he is right now. In other words, he might be the kind of player that head coach Mike Zimmer has had success with on the other side of the ball.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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