Inside the Pylon analyst Brandon Thorn joins Matthew Coller to talk about third-round pick Pat Elflein, who is expected to start on the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line as a rookie. Thorn breaks down what Elflein does best, how much he can improve the Vikings’ line and how he projects in the future.
If you don’t have time to listen to the podcast, here’s some of the highlights Q+A style:
Brandon, as soon as the Minnesota Vikings drafted Pat Elflein, I thought of you because what you do best is analyze offensive linemen and I remembered you really being high on him. So you loved this pick. Tell me what the Vikings are getting with Elflein.
Elflein was a guy, for me, I gave him a late-first/early-second type grade. I just think he’s ready to step in right away and be an above average to good starter Day 1.
As a quick synopsis of him: I think he’s a high floor, medium ceiling type player. I don’t see him ever being the elite of the elite at the position but I do think he has a good shot at being like a top 10, I actually said top 5-8 center. I thought his film was outstanding. There’s some inconsistencies there in pass protection, he gets a little over aggressive at times with his hands and it can cause him to lunge and miss and look ugly in pass protection but for the most part I think he’s a good pass protector and very good blocker. He was a high-level wrestler, you could see that use of leverage and that balance. I think his use of leverage and balance are outstanding, he’s always in a position of strength, he plays with a strong base, plays with a lot of power and he’s getting trained by the best right now in LeCharles Bentley. If anything he’s going to keep getting better.
Last year was his first year at center, he won the Remmington [Award] as the best center in the nation, consensus All-American, so he had a lot of production at the position. Prior to that he was a right guard, he had 25 starts at right guard and three starts at left guard. He’s had experience all over the interior, I think he could do the same in the pros but I think he’s ideally a center.
Another knock that people have had on him that I don’t give much credence to is his NFL Combine measurements. You look at his Mockdraftable Spider Chart, not good, but if you look at Travis Frederick’s, it’s terrible and he’s the best center in the NFL. You look at Rodney Hudson, maybe top two or three, it’s terrible, so that kind of thing doesn’t mean a whole lot to me at center.
As far as film goes though, zone, gap runs, it doesn’t matter as far as scheme goes. Plug-and-play type guy.
The measurables stuck out to me too. I think of it like: They matter more for some positions. Cornerback is going to need to have the speed to track receivers and so on. But how tough will it be for Elflein to step right in considering he only has one year of experience playing center?
I think guys [at center] can step in right away and be successful if they were executing a lot of pro concepts at the college level, which I think he was. I was looking at film the last couple days for an article on the Vikings’ O-line and I was watching how they ran their scheme last year and I saw a lot of inside zone and man gap blocking, so I saw a mixture of concepts. There was a lot of pulling on the interior and those are all things that Elflein did in every game last year. There is something to say about the college offensive line coach and college offensive line scheme and at Ohio State, those guys typically translate really well to the NFL.
What do you think is the toughest part of going from college to the NFL? I would think it’s the sheer size and power of the guys you’re going up against. He’s never seen someone like Linval Joseph before.
Things like that, there is definitely an adjustment period. Elflein played good competition, but like you said, he is now going to see different levels of strength and size and speed. It’s great that he’s going into a position where he’s going to be facing the best than the NFL has to offer right away [by practicing against Joseph]. How he’ll adjust? I think he will adjust pretty well. I think his play strength, toughness and run blocking are his three best traits. Those are the three highest grades I gave to him as far as traits go and those will be put to the test against people like Linval Joseph.
But to answer you’re question, I think he will adjust well not just because of the competition he faced but how he handled that competition. I saw a lot of him generating movement at the point of attack. You don’t see a lot of that, especially 1-on-1 situations that he was in, just simply driving a guy off the ball. He did that a lot. He had good strength at the college level and I think that will translate well against people like Linval Joseph.