Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Virginia Viking

Top 10 Viking Offensive Linemen

Recommended Posts

Unlike linebackers yesterday, the Viking franchise has had a lot of talent, traditionally, on the offensive line.  Also, unlike yesterday, there are NO current linemen on the list (although, I have hope for O'Neill...I will wait to judge Bradbury until after he has a season under his belt.)  So, lets get started...Top 10 Linemen:

10. Milt Sunde: (1964-74) Another Minnesota product that stayed in the state as a pro.  He was the first outstanding guard.  Like a lot of the early Viking linemen, he wasn't big, but he was quick, durable, and tough. In 1966 he was elected to the pro bowl.  He also played on the first two Viking Super Bowl teams.

9. Korey Stringer: (1995-01) I dearly wish I could rate Stringer higher on this list.  He was drafted in the first round out of Ohio State University.  He was developing into one of the best tackles in the league when he died at training camp on August 1, 2001.  His 2000 season was his best, as he was elected to his first and only pro bowl.  He was big, strong and athletic.  Besides his on the field production, Stringer was a great teammate, according to those who played with him, and he was a fan favorite, going out of his way to relate to those who sat in the seats on game day.

8. Ed White: (1969-77) White was a great all-around guard. Proficient in both pass protection and run blocking.  He was also exceptionally strong.  During his career he was considered the strongest man in football.  Outside of football, White was a champion arm wrestler.  He is one of 11 Viking players to have played in all four Super Bowl Appearances.  He made multiple pro bowls and was a 2nd team all-pro four times.  He is in both the Viking and San Diego Chargers' Rings of fame, and is considered one of the 50 best players for both franchises.  Ed White should probably be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but HOF voters don't give serious attention to offensive linemen, as they don't show up on the stat sheet.

7. Gary Zimmerman: (1986-93) One of the most decorated offensive linemen in NFL history, Zimmerman was a dominating tackle.  He made pro bowls, was consistently all-pro, and was on the all-80's AND all-90's teams.  He is one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.  Unfortunately, he had a difficult relationship with his teammates, the media and the front office.  He left Minnesota for the Bronco's, where he was on their first Super Bowl winning team.  Despite how he feels about the organization...and perhaps how the organization feels about him...Gary Zimmerman definitely belongs on this list.  I may have even rated him to low.

6. Steve Hutchinson: (2006-11) Hutchinson, like Zimmerman, is a highly decorated lineman.  He was a 7 times elected to the pro bowl and was a first team all pro 5 times.  He was a member of the 2009 team that went to the NFCCG, losing to the Saints.  I will remember Hutch as the guy who made Bryant McKinnie a better player by being next to him on the line.

5. Grady Alderman: (1961-74) The first great Viking tackle, he played 13 seasons for the Vikings going to two Super Bowls.  Again, multiple elections to the pro bowl and all pro team, he is also one of the 50 Greatest Vikings...and probably should be in the HOF!  After his playing career he was a coach with the Chicago Bears and for a time in the early 80's was the GM for the Denver Broncos.

4. Matt Birk: (1998-08) Pro Bowl center times 6...2 times all pro...and six times Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year award winner...not bad for somebody who went to Harvard and earned a degree in economics!  He ended his playing career with the Baltimore Ravens and won a Super Bowl ring with them. Yet, another offensive lineman that should be in the HOF!

3. Mick Tinglehoff: (1962-78) Tinglehoff played 240 consecutive games on the offensive line!  An NFL record.  He was a multiple pro bowl and all pro honoree.  He is also one of the 11 players to have been in all 4 Super Bowl appearances.  In his 32nd year of eligibility, Tinglehoff was elected to the HOF!  He was small for a center, but no one was tougher than Tinglehoff.  He is also one of the least penalized players in league history.

2. Ron Yary: (1968-77) Yary's honors as a college player and a professional are staggering.  He is often mentioned as the greatest right tackle to ever play the game.  Yary, also, is one of the 11 to play in all four super bowls, and is one of the 50 greatest Vikings.  He was elected to the HOF his first year of eligibility.

1. Randall McDaniel: (1988-1999) McDaniel was probably the greatest offensive lineman of the modern era.  He had it all:  Strength, speed, athleticism, intelligence.  He was elected to a record 12 consecutive pro bowls and elected to the pro football hall of fame in 2009.

Viking fans have been somewhat spoiled by a history of great offensive linemen.  I remember each of these guys in their prime and am so glad that I got to watch them play.  It's disheartening to long time fans of the Vikings to witness the offensive line play of recent seasons.  Now, I would put our top 10 linemen against any other teams and declare we have the best!  I don't know if anyone can make an argument that these 10 are indeed the best to have played for the purple and gold.  You might be able to argue order of the top 10, but, I think I've got it right.  Although, I could've flipped Yary and McDaniel and still been happy with this list.  What are your thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian O'Neill will be on this list some day.

Because I'm a homer😊

Very good list though. I've only seen a bit of McDaniel but he was a force to be reckoned with!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Randall McDaniel is, for my money, one of the 15-20 best football players of all time, regardless of position. Maybe even top 10. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, wcblack34 said:

Randall McDaniel is, for my money, one of the 15-20 best football players of all time, regardless of position. Maybe even top 10. 

one of you data nerds should go through the roster records and list, by year, every other starting lineman McDaniel played with....

 

i;ll wait and think about what cookie that person would receive....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I like this list a lot. 

I'll go through it listing the Approximate Value by career and peak seasons, and post-season awards. Note that All Pros in this case are all first team selections by the Associated Press, which is the system PFR uses. 

  1. Randall McDaniel: career AV 164 (146 with the Vikings). 12 years as a starter. AV peaks of 18 in 1998, 15 in 1993, 14 in 1995, plus 2 seasons of 13 and 4 seasons of 12. From 1990-99 he had a double digit AV every year. Pro Bowl 12 consecutive years from 1989-2000 (the last of those with the Bucs). All Pro 7 times, including 5 years in a row starting in 1992. Hall of Fame. 
  2. Ron Yary: career AV 128. 14 years as a starter. AV peaks of 16 in 1975, 15 in 1974 and 13 in 1976, plus 2 years of 12 and 2 years of 9. Pro Bowl 7 years in a row starting in 1971, All Pro for the first 6 of those. Hall of Fame. 
  3. Mick Tingelhoff: career AV 149. 17 years as a starter, never missed a game. AV peaks of 15 in 1965, plus 13 4 times in the 1960s. 6 consecutive Pro Bowls starting in 1964, with 5 All Pros over that stretch. Hall of Fame, eventually. 
  4. Matt Birk: cAV 111 (81 with MIN). 12 years as a starter (8 with the Vikings). AV peaks of 16 in 2003, 12 in 2000 and 10 twice. 6 Pro Bowls (all with the Vikings) but no All Pros. 
  5. Grady Alderman: cAV 107. 13 years as a starter. AV peaks of 13 in 1969, 11 in 1965, plus 3 seasons of 9 AV. 6 time Pro Bowler, All Pro in 1969. 
  6. Steve Hutchinson: cAV 119 (62 with MIN). 11 years as a starter (6 with the Vikings). AV peaks of 17 in 2009, 16 in 2005 (SEA), 15 in 2003 (SEA), 13 in 2008 and 12 in 2007 and 2004 (SEA). 7 consecutive Pro Bowls starting in 2007, All Pro 5 times during that stretch (with the Vikings, 4 Pro Bowls and 3 All Pro nods). Likely Hall of Famer in the next year or two. 
  7. Gary Zimmerman: cAV 131 (69 with MIN). 12 years as a starter (7 with the Vikings). AV peaks of 14 four times, but 3 of them with the Broncos, plus 4 more years in double digits. 7 Pro Bowls (4 with the Vikings) and 3 time All Pro (twice with the Vikings). Hall of Fame. 
  8. Ed White: cAV 128 (54 with the Vikings). 15 years as a starter (7 with the Vikings). AV peaks of 12 in 1979 (with the Chargers), hit double digits 3 other years, all in SD. Peak AV with the Vikings was 9 in both 1975 and 76. 4 time Pro Bowler (3 with the Vikings), no All Pros. 
  9. Korey Stringer: cAV 52. 6 years as a starter. AV peak of 14 in 2000, also had 10 in 1999 and 8 in 1998. Pro Bowl in 2000. 
  10. Milt Sunde: cAV 61. 6 years as a starter. AV peak of 9 in 1966, 8 in 1965, no other year better than 7. Pro Bowl in 1966. 

Randall McDaniel is an easy choice for #1 here. All-time great player, spent almost his entire career with the Vikings. 7 All Pros and the HOF. 

Can't argue with Gary at #2 either. Another all-time great: 6 All Pros and the HOF, and a career Viking. 

Steve Hutchinson and Gary Zimmerman are probably the next two best players on this list. I'd rate Hutchinson just slightly ahead of Zimmerman based on the one extra All Pro (5 vs 4). They each played only about half their career with the Vikings, and were arguably more successful elsewhere -- Hutchinson went to the Super Bowl with an all-time great Seahawks OL in 2005, and Zimmerman won it twice with the Broncos.

Tingelhoff probably wasn't quite as good as Hutchinson and Zimmerman but deserves to rank ahead of them on this list by virtue of playing his entire career in Minnesota. 

Birk and Alderman were great players but clearly a step down from Hutch and Zimmerman in terms of their impact across the league (only one All Pro nod between them, neither in the HOF). Alderman was a lifelong Viking. Birk played a few years in Baltimore, and won a ring, though the best part of his career was in Minnesota. Hard to know whether to rank these two ahead of Hutch/Zimm or behind them -- I'd say put them lower given that the HOF guys won All Pros as Vikings. I'd put Birk lower than Alderman given his split career. 

White actually had his biggest successes with the Chargers. He was a good player but not at the same level as the guys listed above him here. 

Stringer has a case to move ahead of White, even with his tragically shortened career. Seems very likely that he would've earned additional Pro Bowls and been a high quality starter for years to come -- he was just entering his prime. 

Sunde went to one Pro Bowl but never had a double digit AV season. I think he could drop off the list. 

Other candidates: 

  • Tim Irwin: cAV 94. 11 years as a starter. AV peak of 10 in 2006, 8 four times. No Pro Bowls. 
  • Jeff Christy: cAV 76 (52 in MIN). 9 years as a starter (6 in MIN). AV peaks of 15 in 1998, 11 in 1999 and 10 in 2000 (with the Bucs). 3 Pro Bowls from 1998-2000, the first 2 in Minnesota
  • Dave Dixon: cAV 75. 10 years as a starter. AV peaks of 11 in 2004 and 10 twice. No Pro Bowls.
  • Todd Steussie: cAV 97 (66 in MIN). 11 years as a starter (7 in MIN). AV peaks of 14 in 1998, 12 in 1997, 11 in 2000 and 10 in 1999. Pro Bowls in 1997 and 1998. 
  • Bryant McKinnie. cAV 82 (68 in MIN). AV peaks of 12 in 2009, 11 and 10. Pro Bowl in 2009. 
  • John Sullivan. cAV 67 (47 in MIN). AV peaks of 10 in 2018 (with the Rams), 9 in 2009. No Pro Bowls.

Christy is probably the best player there, based on the 3 Pro Bowls, including two with the Vikings. Steussie surprisingly looks almost as good. Some of that effect is the 1998 offense getting high AV since the unit as a whole was so successful, but it's notable that Steussie was a Pro Bowler even a year earlier, and Christy for 2 years following. I think either one could be rated ahead of Milt Sunde for the 10th spot on this list. 

Irwin and Dixon played a long time but were never rated all that highly, though Dixon is the more impressive of the two guards. 

McKinnie was a good player in some ways, but I don't think he could be included given his off-field problems.

Sullivan had a couple of good years in Minnesota but his resume doesn't stack up here. 

So, my list: 

  1. Randall McDaniel 
  2. Ron Yary
  3. Mick Tingelhoff
  4. Steve Hutchinson
  5. Gary Zimmerman
  6. Grady Alderman
  7. Matt Birk
  8. Korey Stringer
  9. Ed White
  10. (tie) Jeff Christy, Todd Steussie
Edited by Krauser

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, SteelKing728 said:

Brian O'Neill will be on this list some day.

Doubt it, but I think Garrett Bradbury might. 

Worth pointing out that the Vikings haven't had an OL go to the Pro Bowl since 2009 (when McKinnie and Hutchinson did, plus Hutch was an All Pro). Their OL was solid for a few years over that stretch (especially 2012-13) but they haven't had a star at the position for a long time. 

If the Kubiak system revives the offense and Cousins' reputation, the wide zone running game will be one of the major talking points, and Bradbury will get all kinds of credit. If he plays reasonably well and the team succeeds, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets Pro Bowl votes even as a rookie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Krauser said:

Worth pointing out that the Vikings haven't had an OL go to the Pro Bowl since 2009 (when McKinnie and Hutchinson did, plus Hutch was an All Pro).

Matt Kalil went to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, SemperFeist said:

Matt Kalil went to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

Ah sorry, missed that one. So it’s a 6 year drought, not 9. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I loved Korey Stringer, that kid was a tough dude who could run block and pass protect.  Funny guy and was a heck of his player but only for a short time.  Phil Loadholt I thought could be a fine player before injuries pretty much ended his career.  And big Bryant McKinnie sure gave up sacks late in his career but was a more than decent pass protector and book end OT for quite awhile for the team.  He could have easily made the list, loved when they drafted him, he was such a promising prospect coming out of Miami, 'Mount McKinnie'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Up until this last decade, the Vikings have had a strong history along the offensive line.  I sincerely hope that this is just a blip on the radar.  Next to defensive line, it's probably the strongest position chart in the organization's history. I can't really argue with the top 3 on the list...I'd probably drop Birk lower, but he's certainly in the top 10.  I do like @Krauser's inclusion of Steussie.  While later in his career he suffered from False Start Syndrome with a side effect of Holding, he was pretty darn good for most of his tenure.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



×