The Minnesota Vikings selected Ohio State center Pat Elflein in the third round of the NFL draft tonight, giving Ohio State six players among the first 70 taken.
Elflein, the Rimington Trophy winner, is the only senior among the Buckeyes’ draftees, but in some ways he came the furthest of any of them. Elflein was the lowest-rated recruit in the 2012 recruiting class out of Pickerington North High School and was only offered a scholarship when Kyle Kalis decommitted from Ohio State to enroll at Michigan.
After redshirting his first season while rehabbing from a foot injury, Elflein quickly moved up the Buckeyes’ offensive line pecking order to become the top backup in 2013. When right guard Marcus Hall was ejected early in the Michigan game that year, Elflein stepped in and played admirably.
The next three years, Elflein was a leader on the Buckeyes’ line. He moved from guard to center for the 2016 season to anchor that unit. In addition to the Rimington Award, Elflein was a consensus All-American and was the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Elflein impressed scouts with his versatility and run-blocking, but some analysts questioned his pass-blocking and overall athleticism.
“Within their scheme, he was asked to do a lot,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said this week. “There were times he kind of struggled, but that was more because the scheme put him in some tough spots at times.”
The Vikings’ general manager is Rick Spielman, the brother of former Buckeye star Chris Spielman.