Vikings' remade offensive line leaning on Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers

The Minnesota Vikings could have as many as five new starters on offense when the NFL season opens. Here's a starting lineup projection:


Quarterback (Sam Bradford): He'll be the focal point of training camp, with Teddy Bridgewater still rehabbing from last year's knee injury and Bradford in the final year of his contract. Bradford set an NFL single-season record for completion percentage in 2016, but the Vikings want more big plays from an offense that should give Bradford a better supporting cast.

Running back (Latavius Murray): The starting designation here probably doesn't mean much, since Dalvin Cook will get plenty of work and Jerick McKinnon will be involved. Murray is the most established back on the Vikings' roster, and his reliability in pass protection will get him plenty of work on third downs. He'll need a solid season to stay in Minnesota beyond 2017; only $1.1 million of his $5.15 million 2018 base salary is guaranteed against injury, with the full amount becoming guaranteed on the third day of the 2018 league year.

Wide receiver (Stefon Diggs): He led the team with 84 catches last season, despite battling a groin injury that he said bothered him for the final three months of the season. If Diggs can become the kind of downfield threat he appeared to be early in the season, he has a chance to cash in; his rookie contract will be up after 2018.

Wide receiver (Adam Thielen): The Vikings rewarded the restricted free agent in March after his breakout 2016 season, giving him a three-year contract extension with $10 million in guaranteed money. Thielen led the Vikings in receiving yards in 2016 and became the team's best vertical threat late in the season; the 26-year-old will be a focal point of the team's offense from Day 1 in 2017.

Wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell): This spot could change hands throughout the season, depending on Michael Floyd's disciplinary status with the NFL, the development of rookie Rodney Adams and whether Jarius Wright returns from a 2016 season spent on the margins of the Vikings' roster. The Vikings spoke highly of Treadwell's improvement through the offseason, and he was in the team's top three-receiver set for most of the spring. The 2016 first-round pick has plenty to prove after a one-catch rookie year, but he'll get his chance.

Tight end (Kyle Rudolph): He posted the best numbers of his career in 2016, catching 83 passes for 840 yards and leading the team with seven receiving touchdowns. The Vikings' pursuit of Jared Cook showed they wanted to add another vertical threat to the middle of the field, and rookie Bucky Hodges could eventually add that element to the offense. Rudolph earned Bradford's trust last season, and he will be counted on heavily again.

Left tackle (Riley Reiff): After he was moved from the left side to the right side in Detroit, the Vikings gave him $58.75 million over the next five years to play the left side. Coach Mike Zimmer thinks more highly of Reiff as a run-blocker than a pass-protector; and the Vikings had the league's 32nd-ranked running game a year ago. For what he brings to the run game, though, he'll still be charged with protecting Bradford's blind side.

Left guard (Alex Boone): A slow start to his first year in Minnesota turned into a respectable first season with the Vikings, and the 30-year-old guard will look for more consistency in 2017. It would be helpful for the Vikings to put more consistency around Boone, after a 2016 season that saw him line up next to three different starting left tackles.

Center (Nick Easton): The Vikings gave the 25-year-old a long look during their spring program, and they and could start him here with Joe Berger at right guard. Rookie Pat Elflein might compete for this spot, as well, but Easton will likely get the first crack, given how the Vikings approached the spot this spring.

Right guard (Joe Berger): At age 35, he might be in his final NFL season; he has been a reliable member of the Vikings' offensive line in recent years, and he can play either center or guard, depending on how things shake out with Easton and Elflein.

Right tackle (Mike Remmers): His first tour with the Vikings saw him released at the end of the 2014 preseason. He's back on a five-year, $30 million deal now, after becoming a starter with the Carolina Panthers. Remmers also is better against the run than the pass, as Zimmer said this offseason, and teams could try to test the Vikings' remade right side of the line with pressure early on.


Defensive end (Everson Griffen): The right end has played in two straight Pro Bowls, after posting 30.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He will turn 30 in December and has two seasons left on the five-year, $42.5 million deal that has paid off handsomely for the Vikings so far. Griffen has missed just one game during the past three seasons. He recovered three fumbles last year, returning one for a touchdown.

Defensive end (Danielle Hunter): He'll take on a bigger role in the Vikings' defense after registering 12.5 sacks in a rotational role last season. He's a force with few parallels in the NFL, at 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds with 34½-inch arms and a 4.57-second 40-yard dash, and he's still only 22.

Defensive tackle (Datone Jones): The Packers tried Jones at defensive end and linebacker, and now the Vikings will give the 2013 first-rounder a shot at 3-technique tackle. They need help here, with Sharrif Floyd's status still uncertain, and Jones has expressed a willingness to try the spot. Tom Johnson and Jaleel Johnson will factor in here, as well, but the Vikings will trust defensive line coach Andre Patterson to get more out of Jones than he showed in Green Bay.

Defensive tackle (Linval Joseph): After matching his career high with four sacks and turning in another year as one of the league's best run-stoppers, he was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2016. Mike Zimmer still believes Joseph can be even more dynamic as a pass-rusher; he will turn 29 in October.

Weakside linebacker (Edmond Robinson): This spot will likely be decided by a camp battle between Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur, but the 2015 seventh-rounder could win out if Robinson shows the kind of range and athletic ability that made the Vikings draft him in the first place. The Vikings sounded pleased with his progress this spring, when he got plenty of work with the first-team defense.

Middle linebacker (Eric Kendricks): The third-year linebacker has become a linchpin of the Vikings defense, especially in pass coverage; he had a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 1 last year, and led the team with a combined 109 tackles. He started 14 games last year after battling a nagging rib injury as a rookie, and if he's healthy this year, he'll rarely come off the field.

Strongside linebacker (Anthony Barr): It's a big year for the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, who is playing his fourth season after a disappointing year in 2016. Barr made the Pro Bowl for a second straight year, but had only two sacks and one forced fumble following an impressive 2015 season. He's got plenty riding on this year, too; the Vikings picked up his fifth-year option for $12.3 million in May, but the option is only guaranteed for injury at this point, meaning the team could release Barr without penalty before the start of the 2018 season provided he's healthy.

Cornerback (Xavier Rhodes): He has emerged as one of the best shutdown corners in the league, and he's going to get paid like one very soon. Rhodes is playing on his fifth-year option, making $8.026 million this season, but the Vikings have indicated they plan to work on a long-term deal for the 27-year-old, who has become one of their most important players. History suggests the Vikings could try to get something done as soon as the start of training camp.

Cornerback (Trae Waynes): After effectively redshirting as a rookie and splitting time with Terence Newman last season, the 11th pick in the 2015 draft will likely get his shot opposite Rhodes at left cornerback. The Vikings will need to figure out if Waynes can do the job; a decision on his fifth-year option awaits after the season.

Free safety (Harrison Smith): He should be fully recovered from offseason ankle surgery after fighting through a high ankle sprain at the end of last season. Smith played on the injury in his second Pro Bowl in January, and has every chance to make it three in a row this year; even though he didn't have an interception in 2016, he remained one of the best in the business.

Strong safety (Andrew Sendejo): The soon-to-be 30-year-old returns opposite Smith after intercepting a career-high two passes last season. Sendejo is at his best when he's helping against the run, and his reliability allows the Vikings to create the kind of multifaceted role that they've developed for Smith.

Special teams

Kicker (Kai Forbath): Marshall Koehn has a bigger leg than Forbath, and the two will compete for the job during training camp, after Forbath beat out Koehn and others for the right to replace Blair Walsh in November. If Forbath can be more effective on extra points this preseason after missing three last year, he has a good chance to retain the job; he was 15-for-15 on field goals last season.

Punter (Taylor Symmank): There'll be competition here, as well, with Symmank and Ryan Quigley fighting to replace Jeff Locke. The Vikings liked Symmank after a rookie camp tryout in 2016, and he could beat out the more experienced Quigley if he's able to build on a strong spring.

Long-snapper (Kevin McDermott): He's entrenched in the job after the Vikings gave him a four-year contract extension in the fall. He is signed through 2020.