The Vikings are always looking at upgrading their offensive line, and this year it will be one of their top focuses in free agency and the draft.
While at the Combine in Indianapolis, the Vikings visited with at least three offensive linemen, including Boise State's Daryn Colledge, Wisconsin's Donovan Raiola and Pittsburgh's Charles Spencer.
Each of these three is listed at different positions on the offensive line, but Colledge and Spencer are believed to have the versatility to play either tackle or guard. Raiola classified himself as strictly a center at the NFL level, although he started one game at guard for the Badgers early in his college career.
Colledge is a 6-4, 299-pound tackle from Boise State who grew up in small-town (North Pole) Alaska. He is the seventh-ranked tackle available in the draft, according to Scout.com, the last of the four-star athletes at that position.
He's a well-spoken player who is out to prove the draft stock of a small-town, small-school prospect has nowhere to go but up. At the Combine, he spoke with several teams in addition to the Vikings, including Carolina, Tampa Bay, Chicago and Atlanta.
"Coming in as a rookie, I think you need to be a guy that shuts your mouth and opens your ears and eyes and you've got to learn. The NFL is a different animal than even the jump from high school to college," he said. "You've got to be willing to step back and put your ego aside and be willing to learn and pick up the traits of the guys that have been there."
It doesn't hurt that he can rely on conversations with guys like former Denver Broncos offensive line star Mark Schlereth, whose mother is friends with Colledge's mother. Schlereth was born in Alaska and played college ball at Idaho.
Raiola, the younger brother of Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, is a 6-2, 300-pounder with ties to the Vikings' current coaching staff. His offensive line coach at Wisconsin, Jim Hueber, is now one of two offensive line coaches for the Vikings.
"What he expects from us is like we're playing at the highest level," Donovan said of Hueber. "He wouldn't expect anything less than your best. If you didn't do your job correctly, he'll let you know."
Raiola met with the Vikings' other offensive line coach, Pat Morris, at the Combine.
Then there is Spencer, who checked in at the Combine at 6-4, 352 pounds and ran the 40 in 5.28 seconds.
Spencer has spoke with the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals in Indy, with Dallas showing the most serious interest.
VikingUpdate.com will have more extensive reports and audio interviews with these players and many more prospects between now and the draft at the end of April. For much more information on the players and the draft, please visit our draft portal page, and don't forget that if you're a monthly subscriber you only have until March 15 to upgrade to a six-month or annual subscription and still receive the 2006 Scout.com Draft Guide.
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