Versatility, Character Selling Points On Johnson

The Vikings know their offensive line prospects well, and they feel they got a high-character player in Marcus Johnson in the second round.

When you have a former offensive line coach as a head coach and an offensive line coach doubling as offensive coordinator, there is one certainty on draft day – the Vikings were prepared when it came to taking an offensive lineman.

So it was on the second round that the team addressed its only pressing need on the offensive line by taking mammoth Marcus Johnson who at more than 6-6 and 321 pounds has the size and agility to play at tackle or guard – versatility the coaching and scouting staff took notice of.

"He wasn't the organization's top offensive line prospect, but he was my top offensive lineman," Mike Tice said. "It's rare when you have a player at this point in the draft that doesn't have any blemishes – injuries, mental problems, character issues – those types of things." His versatility is just one of his selling points. In his college career, he started all 48 games he played and his durability has never been challenged. While he has the ability to play at least three line spots, Tice said he doesn't plan to shuttle him up and down the line.

"In the time I've been around, I've only seen one rookie that could do that," Tice said. "That was Matt Birk, but he had some special intangibles. To me, it's better off to leave a rookie in one spot and let him learn."

That spot will be left guard, where Johnson will battle for the spot vacated by Chris Liewinski. At the current time, Adam Goldberg is at the top of the depth chart and Tice said it will stay that way … for now.

"You don't ever move linemen on the depth chart until you start hitting," Tice said. "When that starts, then we will know more about where he fits in."


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