Hutchinson has built the kind of resume that already has some pundits claiming that he will likely be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when his career comes to an end. Anyone who has seen Hutch dominate on a play-by-play basis would agree that he is one of the pre-eminent guards in the NFL today and is at the top of his game as the team's starting left guard.
The other side of the line hasn't been nearly as rock solid, but signs pointed to a sharp upturn last season. Artis Hicks was also acquired in 2006 as part of a draft-weekend trade with the Eagles and he was immediately handed the starting job at right guard. After a fairly solid 2006 campaign, Hicks appeared to take a step backward in 2007 and was replaced by Anthony Herrera following the Vikings' bye week in Week 5 of last season. In his first game as a starter, Herrera was part of the O-line that blocked its way to a 200-yard game by Adrian Peterson. A few weeks later, he would also be part of A.D.'s NFL-record single-game rushing record of 296 yards against San Diego.
While neither Herrera nor Hicks are viewed as can't-miss types at guard, head coach Brad Childress has extolled the virtues of having competition between the two and that it has brought out the best in both players. The Vikings seemed to back up those words with action – or, more accurately, inaction – by not aggressively going after any guards in free agency or the draft. Instead, they signed Herrera to a solid, long-term contract that should keep him and Hutchinson in the starting lineup for years to come.
Depth at the position might end up being added in the form of rookie John Sullivan, a four-year starter at center at Notre Dame. If the Vikings can work out a long-term extension with Matt Birk, Sullivan has been rumored to be a top candidate to slide over to the right guard spot. Even if things don't work out with Birk on a long-term deal, Sullivan could see short-term assignment as a fill-in guard this season.
When grading out the position, one has to take into account that Hutchinson is the best left guard in the league, which helps make up for deficiencies – real or perceived – on the right side. Between Herrera and Hicks, the Vikings have a serviceable right side of the line and, combined with Hutchinson's off-the-charts skills on the left side, the guard position is one that looks very solid heading into 2008.
As the Vikings continue to try to establish the league's top rushing attack, the guard position would appear to be locked and loaded. Of the three line positions – tackle, guard and center – it would appear that guard is the position that is most established for both the short- and long-term future.