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2021 NFL Draft Prospects for Vikings: Centers & Guards 

View photos of potential guards and centers the Vikings can select in the 2021 NFL Draft. Read the full story HERE.

In the leadup to the 2021 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 those national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.

Vikings status at guard and center

The Vikings appear to be pretty well set at center, but questions still remain at guard.

The 2021 season will mark Garrett Bradbury's third in Minnesota. He played 1,082 offensive snaps for the Vikings during the 2020 season, during which he recorded a run-blocking grade of 69.3 by analytics site Pro Football Focus.

View the best offensive line photos of the 2020 season from Vikings photographers.

It seems unlikely that Minnesota would move the 2019 first-round selection out of the middle at this point.

Last season, rookie Ezra Cleveland started nine games for the Vikings at right guard; it remains to be seen if coaches will leave the second-round pick there or consider sliding him to left tackle, where he played at Boise State.

The Vikings recently re-signed Dakota Dozier, who started all 16 games at left guard in 2020. While returning a player familiar with Minnesota's offensive system is a definite plus, Dozier saw his share of struggles in his first season as a starter.

Beyond Cleveland and Dozier, the Vikings also have guards Kyle Hinton, Dru Samia and Zack Bailey, the latter of whom they added to the practice squad in December.

Minnesota also acquired offensive lineman Mason Cole from the Cardinals via trade. Cole has played both guard and center during his NFL career.

Ask the analyst

Brian Baldinger is an analyst for NFL Network and one of the most well-respected voices on offensive line play across the league. He played 143 career games as an offensive lineman from 1982-93 with the Cowboys, Colts and Eagles.

A popular presence on social media for his “Baldy’s Breakdowns,” Baldinger's video cutups can be found at @BaldyNFL on Twitter. Baldinger recently chatted with Vikings.com to give his assessment on where Minnesota stands right now at the guard spot and how this year's group of draft prospects measures up to previous springs.

Contrary to many Vikings fans' opinions, Baldinger believes that Minnesota is in an OK spot with guard, depending on where Cleveland ends up. He opined that tackle could actually be the bigger need come draft day.

"I'm just saying if you leave Ezra [Cleveland] at right guard, then I think tackle is a big issue," Baldinger said. "If you say, 'Ezra is a left tackle and that's what we drafted him for and we're going to put him over there,' then guard can be a need. Dozier looked fine at left guard. If you're fine with putting Ezra at left tackle, I'd have to go see it first. But I'd say guard is not a pressing need at this point."

Asked which guards have the "highest ceiling" of this group, Baldinger emphasized that Trey Smith and Wyatt Davis (more on them later) stand out.

"They look like good football players," Baldinger said. "They're powerful, they're big, they bring their feet with them – they're not on the ground that much. I think both of those guys, and [Alijah] Vera-Tucker probably is going to be a Pro Bowl guard. I think those three guys all have a chance to be really good football players."

Expert rankings

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has three interior linemen in his overall Top 50: 15. G Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC), 40. OL Landon Dickerson (Alabama) and 44. C Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater)

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has just one interior lineman in his overall Top 25: 10. Vera-Tucker

Rankings for guards and centers by Jeremiah, his NFL Media counterpart Bucky Brooks, Kiper, analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler are listed below. Kiper and Brugler created separate lists for guards and centers, but Brooks and PFF combined players into an interior offensive linemen category.

Prospects

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on NFL.com (linked for each player's name).

Alijah-Vera-Tucker-2560

School: USC | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt: 308 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
G1 IOL1 G1 T7 G1

2020 stats: 6 games (6 starts) at left tackle; initially opted out but opted back in; named First-Team All-Pac 12

Initially played both ways: As a standout at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California, Vera-Tucker played tackle and defensive end. As a senior in 2016, he totaled 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and a blocked punt.

Baldy's Breakdown: "To me, [Vera-Tucker] could be David DeCastro. He's powerful, he's big, he can run, he can move. I think he has all that ability. … I think Vera-Tucker is going to be a really good player. He played left tackle at USC this year, but I think his best position is at guard."

Wyatt-Davis-2560

School: Ohio State | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 315 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked IOL2 G4 IOL3 G5

2020 stats: 8 games (8 starts at right guard); opted out initially but opted back in when the Big Ten announced it would play football in the fall of 2020; named a unanimous All-American

Hall of Fame bloodline: Davis is the grandson of Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Davis, who passed away in April 2020. Willie Davis played two seasons for the Browns before being traded to Green Bay, where he didn't miss a game in 10 seasons. He later became a member of the Packers Board of Directors.

"He didn't let people put him in a box of just being an athlete," Wyatt Davis told USA TODAY about his grandfather last spring. "He broke outside of that box and was extremely successful. Growing up, he was always around, especially with me and my brother, he treated us so good.

Baldy's Breakdown: "I think he could go either side. He's been a right guard, but you know, they run the ball at Ohio State, so you can watch him with J.K. Dobbins, you can watch him with [Trey] Sermon this year, and you can watch him get to the second level and all that kind of good stuff. And cover guys up inside. A lot of good tape on Wyatt Davis. A lot of good tape. I mean, I don't know how to always stack these guys the way a general manager does – is he a third-round, is he a fourth-round? I just know this: you can find starting guards in the third and fourth round in this league. You have to. You just can't spend first-round picks on offensive linemen. So to me, Wyatt Davis looks like a guy that, he goes up against [Tommy] Togiai every day at Ohio State in practice, and a lot of good players on the other side of the ball. So I'm sure he's getting good work just at practice every day. To me, I think he's going to be a solid football player."

Landon-Dickerson-2560

School: Alabama (after Florida State) | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt: 333 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
IOL2 IOL5 C1 IOL1 G2

2020 stats: 12 games (12 starts); earned the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center; received First-Team All-American and All-Conference honors from The Associated Press

'Puts fun in football': Dickerson's teammates will tell you there's never a dull moment around the center, who has been known to dance or revert to other antics during practice or on game day. Sports Illustrated's Joey Blackwell wrote a feature about Dickerson's fun-loving personality in December.

Baldy's Breakdown: "I think Landon Dickerson could be a Pro Bowl guard, Pro Bowl center. … [He's] my favorite player in the whole draft … I know he's had injuries, but that's as close a player as I've seen to Quenton Nelson coming out of college. He's just a monster. He can play any position, I think. Played center this year, has played guard. I think he can play tackle if you want him to play tackle. He's just a nasty, physical, all-day player that plays the game the right way. He changes your whole team. He changed Alabama's team. [Alabama Head Coach] Nick Saban will tell you he's the best leader he's ever had. He's exceptional."

Creed-Humphrey-2560

School: Oklahoma | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 302 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked IOL4 C2 IOL5 C1

2020 stats: 11 games (11 starts); team captain for the 2020 season; accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl

Reps for pets: Humphrey raised more than $2,500 for Saving Pets at Risk (SPAR), a nonprofit located in his hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma, from which he adopted his dog Beau. Fans who wanted to support the cause could pledge a certain dollar amount per bench press rep that Humphrey completed at Oklahoma's Pro Day.

Trey-Smith-2560

School: Tennessee | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt: 321 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked IOL3 G5 IOL6 G8

2020 stats: 11 games (11 starts) at left guard; named First-Team All-Conference; received the Jason Witten Award for leadership on the field and community service off the field; accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl

Committed to the community: Smith puts a priority on giving back. The lineman has been active as a speaker to youth groups, elementary schools and organizations. In 2018, he spearheaded a coat drive for Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry (KARM), and 1,000 coats were donated over five days because of his efforts. Over the summer of 2020, Smith helped lead multiple peaceful marches against racial injustice. Before his mother Dorsetta passed, Smith promised her he would obtain his degree; he accomplished the task in 2020 when he graduated with a degree in recreation and sports management.

Baldy's Breakdown: "Just watching him on film, he's a good football player. Gosh, I remember when he came out of high school, I think he was like the National Player of the Year or something. At any position. The highest-rated [player]. And people are kind of scratching their head, like, 'Why'd he go to Tennessee?' When he could have gone to all these other powerhouses and Tennessee's just a mess. But he's a good football player, regardless."

Quinn-Meinerz-2560

School: Wisconsin-Whitewater | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 320 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
IOL3 Unranked C4 IOL2 C2

2020 stats: Wisconsin-Whitewater did not play in 2020 due to COVID-19; 2019 stats: 15 games (15 starts) at left guard; received First-Team All-Conference honors

Rocking the crop top: Meinerz told NBC Sports that he earned the nickname "The Gut" due to his tendency to fold his jersey under and "let the belly breathe."

Alex-Leatherwood-2560

School: Alabama | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt: 312 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked G6 T9 G4

2020 stats: 13 games (13 starts) at left tackle; helped Alabama win a national championship; received the Outland Trophy as the nation's top lineman; named First-Team All-American by The Associated Press

Future in film? In June 2020, Leatherwood wrote a screenplay for a video supporting social justice and condemning racism; he appeared in that video along with a number of his fellow players as well as Saban.

Ben-Cleveland-2560

School: Georgia | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt: 343 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked G8 IOL7 G9

2020 stats: 9 games (9 starts) at right guard; received First-Team All-SEC honors; accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl

Burly and more: Although a lot of people will focus on Cleveland's size, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein wrote that Cleveland "isn't just a burly interior lineman. He has a legitimate pro, wide-body frame with desired lean mass and proportional build."

Aaron-Banks-2560

School: Notre Dame | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt: 325 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked G3 IOL9 G10

2020 stats: 12 games (12 starts) at left guard; named First-Team All-American by The Associated Press; accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl

Variety of interests: Banks enrolled in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters, where he majored in film, television and theater.

Kendrick-Green-2560

School: Illinois | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 305 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked G9 IOL4 C4

2020 stats: 8 games (8 starts) at center (3) and left guard (5); earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors

Looking up to Livingston: Green attended Peoria High School (Illinois), which is also the alma mater of former NBA player Sean Livingston. Green recalled attending Livingston's camps in his hometown and dreaming that "he too might make it as a professional athlete."

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