Can Clemmings replace Loadholt for Vikings?
The Vikings suffered a big loss on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with right tackle Phil Loadholt going down with what is believed to be a torn Achilles on their second play from scrimmage.
How big of a loss is he? Loadholt didn’t have his best season in 2014, and he missed five games due to injury, but he still graded positively as a run-blocker. And if you look back at his 2013 season, you see just how good he can be. That year he had the fourth-highest run-blocking grade among all offensive tackles, and the best of all right tackles. He’s as physical as you’d expect from a player 6-foot-8 and 343 pounds, and his loss will absolutely have an impact on Minnesota.
How much of an impact it’ll be depend upon the ability of rookie T.J. Clemmings to contribute right away, as he is a logical candidate to start in Loadholt’s place at right tackle. We felt the Vikings got themselves a bit of a steal by grabbing Clemmings in the fourth round of May’s NFL draft, with the former Pittsburgh Panthers standout ranking as our highest-graded offensive tackle in the 2015 draft class.
It’s still way to early to tell with Clemmings, but we did get an early glimpse of his NFL ability in the Hall of Fame game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clemmings graded negatively as a run-blocker, but was perfect in pass protection, with no sacks, hits or hurries allowed from 16 pass blocking snaps. That’s a positive sign for a player who is likely going to have to play a key role on the Vikings’ offensive line.