Vikings' pick at No. 196: UCLA offensive lineman Jeff Baca
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings addressed their offensive line in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, selecting UCLA guard Jeff Baca at No. 196 overall after a trade down.
Baca (6-foot-3, 302 pounds) started 45 games for the Bruins -- 25 at guard and 20 at tackle -- and played three quarters at guard in the East-West Shrine Game.
That position flexibility could be an asset to the Vikings, who need to sort out their depth after Geoff Schwartz signed with Kansas City in the offseason.
"I believe that I can play all three positions along the offensive line," Baca said. "With proper coaching, I think that would be something I could absolutely do."
They traded down from No. 189 to No. 196 with Tampa, which gave back the Vikings their original seventh-round pick (No. 229 overall) in exchange for dropping seven spots. The Vikings had traded that pick to New England, which flipped it to Tampa Bay in a separate deal.
The 196th overall pick originally belonged to Denver and also went through Philadelphia.
Baca, 23, started eight games at left tackle as a true freshman in 2008 and 13 games at left guard in 2009 before sitting out 2010 because of academic issues.
"In the spring quarter of 2010, I was taking Spanish, biology and chemistry, and I ended up failing two of the three classes," Baca said. "I just got in over my head a bit, didn't realize the time commitment that the pre-med major was taking on me. ...
"I changed my major to political science and ended up making the honor roll, I think, seven of the eight quarters after that and finished out and graduated."
He broke his left ankle in 2011 spring practice, had surgery and returned for the second game of that season, starting 11 at weakside tackle before moving to strongside guard for the bowl game.
As a senior in 2012, Baca started all 12 games (11 at guard, one at tackle) en route to second-team All-Pac 12 honors.
He has some explosive traits, finishing among the top performers at the NFL scouting combine in the three-cone drill (7.26 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.44 seconds).
"I do take pride in that," Baca said, "and also showing off my ability to pull and redirect, and hopefully, that translates to the field."