View photos of potential guards and centers the Vikings can select in the 2020 NFL Draft. Read the full story HERE.
In the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.
Vikings Status at the Center and Guard Positions
The Vikings made an early investment of draft capital last year when selecting center Garrett Bradbury with the 18th overall pick. He was the first interior offensive lineman drafted by Minnesota in the first round of a draft since guard Randall McDaniel in 1988. Minnesota then moved Pat Elflein, a third-round pick in 2017, to left guard. Veteran Josh Kline was brought in during free agency last year and played right guard but has been released. The Vikings re-signed Dakota Dozier and center Brett Jones. Aviante Collins, a tackle who worked some at guard last offseason, and 2019 fourth-round selection Dru Samia are also back.
About the expert
Brian Baldinger played offensive line for Dallas, Indianapolis and Philadelphia from 1982-93. The younger crowd that didn't see him in action likely is familiar with his "Baldy's Breakdowns" on Twitter and analysis work for NFL Network.
Vikings.com asked Baldinger what he believes is key for interior offensive linemen in Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system.
"You're going to have to pull, because the basis of that whole offense is the outside zone," Baldinger said. "If you're the right guard and Aaron Donald is the 3-tech, you're expected to cut him off, and the center is coming right behind you. It's pattern reads.
"Guards not only have to cut guys off, but you're expected to get movement," Baldinger added. "You have to get guys that can run and move and play in space, because eventually you have to get to that second level. That's when you get dangerous, when the down guys can pick off the second-level linebackers and safeties. That's when the holes get really big."
Baldinger also provided multiple "Baldy's Breakdowns" from what he's seen out of several prospects on film.
Follow Baldinger on Twitter @BaldyNFL for more of his breakdowns leading up to the draft.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has two interior offensive linemen in his overall Top 50: 37. Cesar Ruiz and 49. Lloyd Cushenberry III. Ruiz is the only interior offensive lineman in the Top 25 by ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., coming in at No. 25.
PFF included eight interior offensive linemen in its overall Top 100: 30. Netane Muti, 35. Jonah Jackson, 49. Tyler Biadasz, 63. Damien Lewis, 71. Nick Harris, 77. Logan Stenberg, 87. Cushenberry and 94. Ruiz.
Positional rankings by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler impacted the players listed for this series. Rankings by each are noted under each prospect.
As you can see, the ratings are quite varied, which could further emphasize the players that fit specific systems the best.
Players listed below are organized alphabetically by last name.
School: Michigan | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 315 pounds
Rankings: No. 1 G by Kiper; No. 7 interior OL by Brugler (No. 4 G in Brugler's final Draft Guide)
2019 stats: 13 starts; First-Team All-Big Ten and Third-Team Associated Press All-American; team captain for second consecutive season
Bucked the Badgers: After winning Wisconsin's Gatorade Player of the Year and the Joe Thomas Award as the state's top offensive lineman, Bredeson opted for Ann Arbor instead of playing home games about an hour west of his hometown.
School: Louisiana | Year: Redshirt Senior | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 323 pounds
Rankings: No. 5 interior OL by Brooks; No. 2 G by Kiper; No. 6 interior OL by PFF; No. 3 interior OL by Brugler (No. 1 G in Brugler's final Draft Guide)
2019 stats: 7 starts before suffering a groin injury; First-Team All-Sun Belt
Sibling 5: Hunt, who averaged 18.9 points and 11.0 rebounds in basketball during his junior season of high school, has one brother and four sisters.
Baldy's Breakdown: "He's from Texas, but I think he started every game at both guard and tackle. He played up and down the line of scrimmage, so that shows you he has some versatility to him. He did get hurt this year, so that may knock him down a bit. But he has the size to play both guard and tackle."
School: Ohio State | Year: Redshirt Senior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 306 pounds
Rankings: No. 2 interior offensive lineman by PFF; No. 4 G by Kiper; No. 9 interior OL by Brugler (No. 5 G in Brugler's final Draft Guide)
2019 stats: 14 starts; First-Team All-Big Ten; Third-Team Associated Press All-American
School and position switch: Jackson was a graduate transfer who won the starting left guard job in his lone season with the Buckeyes after starting 11 games at right guard for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in 2018.
School: LSU | Year: | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt. 327 pounds
Rankings: No. 5 G by Kiper; No. 4 interior OL by PFF; No. 6 interior OL by Brugler (No. 2 G in Brugler's final Draft Guide)
2019 stats: 15 starts; Second-Team All-SEC
JuCo route: Lewis was a two-time junior college All-America selection at Northwest Mississippi Community College before transferring to LSU, where he started all 28 games.
School: Fresno State | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot- | Wt. pounds
Rankings: No. 1 interior offensive lineman by PFF; No. 3 interior OL by Brooks; No. 6 G by Kiper; No. 9 G in Brugler's final Draft Guide
2019 stats: 3 starts before suffering season-ending injury; voted a team captain
5 in 2: The native of Tonga who grew up in Hawai'i has dealt with multiple injuries, including Achilles problems in 2016 and 2018 and a Lisfranc injury in 2019.
Baldy's Breakdown: "He's unbelievably strong. I think he benched the most at the combine [with 44 reps]. They play a shotgun spread offense, but I think his game is going to transfer really well to the NFL because of his compact frame and how strong he is. He gets his hands on you, and you're not going to get away from him. He's from Honolulu and has that Polynesian strength, and I'd take those kids all day long because they are humble and tough. He could play the game barefoot and be fine. The one concern is injuries. Is there something there? I don't get access to medicals, but people at the combine probably got information on him."
School: Kentucky | Year: Redshirt Senior | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt. 317 pounds
Rankings: No. 3 G by Kiper; No. 9 interior OL by PFF; No. 8 G in Brugler's final Draft Guide
2019 stats: 13 starts; First-Team All-SEC; voted a team captain
A good run: Stenberg started 39 games in a row to close his career and helped the Wildcats have the best four-season run (32 wins) since 1949-52 under Paul "Bear" Bryant.
School: Wisconsin | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 314 pounds
Rankings: No. 2 interior OL by Brooks; No. 2 C by Kiper; No. 5 interior OL by PFF; No. 6 C in Brugler's final Draft Guide
2019 stats: 14 starts; won first Rimington Trophy (nation's top center) in school history; First-Team Associated Press All-American; First-Team All-Big Ten
Across the line: Biadasz, a native of Amherst, Wisconsin, won the 2015 Tim Krumrie Award as the state's most outstanding senior defensive lineman.
Baldy's Breakdown: "He didn't run at the combine, but he's a typical Wisconsin guy. He looks a little bit stiff, but he's played a lot of football. He started 41 straight games and is what Wisconsin is. He doesn't look like he has the movement of Ruiz or Cushenberry. Some people have him as the No. 1 center, but I like Ruiz and Cushenberry over him."
Lloyd Cushenberry III
School: LSU | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 312 pounds
Rankings: No. 1 interior OL by Brooks and Brugler; No. 3 C by Kiper; No. 10 interior OL by PFF; No. 1 C in Brugler's final Draft Guide
2019 stats: 15 starts; Second-Team All-America; First-Team All-SEC; led LSU with 1,037 snaps
Badge of honor: Cushenberry became the first offensive lineman in school history to be awarded an 18 jersey (in honor of former QB Matt Mauck). Because of a requirement for jersey numbers, he wore No. 79, but his jersey featured a patch.
Baldy's Breakdown: "Cushenberry is a good player. All you have to do is watch Joe Burrow this year. If you're blocking guys in the SEC like that … those defensive tackles are difference makers, and he handled himself really well. Is he a guard, too? I don't think there's any question he can play both. If you look at the last two seasons, he's proven that he has the size and the long arms to play both center and guard."
School: Washington | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt. 302 pounds
Rankings: No. 5 C by Kiper; No. 7 interior OL by PFF; No. 4 C in Brugler's final Draft Guide
2019 stats: 12 starts; First-Team All-Pac-12 for second consecutive season
Busy bee: NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein described Harris as a "worker-bee, center-only prospect who won't check many physical boxes but brings his grit to the fight on every snap."
School: Temple | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 307 pounds
Rankings: No. 4 interior OL by Brooks; No. 4 C by Kiper; No. 4 interior OL by Brugler (No. 3 C in Brugler's final Draft Guide)
2019 stats: 12 starts; First-Team All-American Athletic Conference; Third-Team Associated Press All-American
In the family: Hennessy's brother, Thomas, has been the long snapper for the Jets for the past three seasons after playing collegiately at Duke.
Baldy's Breakdown: "I know him real well since I live in Philadelphia. One thing you know about any kid out of Temple is how tough they're going to be. He doesn't have real long arms, but he's a pit bull. He's a smart and physical kid, and he's as tough as can be. I thought that for him being a two or three-star recruit, he got the most out of his ability."
School: San Diego State | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 309 pounds
Rankings: No. 6 C by Kiper; No. 5 C in Brugler's final Draft Guide
2019 stats: 13 starts; First-Team All-Mountain West for second consecutive season, becoming second OL in school history (Nico Siragusa) to land on consecutive All-Mountain West teams
Crossover sport: In addition to earning two letters at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in San Francisco, Ismael also played lacrosse.
School: Michigan | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 307 pounds
Rankings: No. 1 C by Kiper; No. 3 interior OL by PFF; No. 2 interior OL by Brugler (No. 2 C in Brugler's final Draft Guide)
2019 stats: 13 starts; according to PFF College, allowed just eight pressures on 447 snaps in pass protection; Second-Team All-Big Ten (coaches)
Overcame tragedy: Ruiz was 8 when his father (Cesar Edwin Ruiz) passed away after being struck by a car while helping another motorist with a flat tire.
Baldy's Breakdown: "He is my No. 1 center. I think he's physical. When I watch his movement and how he's played over the last three years, it all transfers. What he did at the combine was spectacular. He can get to the second level. He has huge hands. I just watch him move guys off the line of scrimmage."