Meet the Minnesota Vikings: OL Mark Asper

By Gil Alcaraz IV

The Minnesota Vikings claimed former Buffalo Bills interior offensive lineman Mark Asper off of waivers on Saturday, only a day after trimming their roster down to the NFL-mandated 53 players.

A 2012 sixth-round pick (178 overall) out of Oregon, Asper was cut on Friday by the Bills after failing to earn a backup role behind starting Buffalo center Eric Wood.

Standing at 6’7 and weighing 325 pounds, Asper is a mammoth of a man who brings size and versatility to the Vikings offensive line. After playing both tackle and guard during his college career, he made the adjustment to an interior combo leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft, performing admirably at center during a pre-draft All-Star game. Now he’s hoping to make a full-time transition to the interior at the pro level.

“This old boy is as big as a house,” Bills general manager Buddy Nix said after drafting Asper. “He can play center and guard.”

As a result of a two-year mission during his time at Oregon, the 26-year old Asper came into the 2012 NFL Draft as one of the oldest available prospects. The Bills still saw him to be worth a sixth-round pick due to his abilities as a powerful, bulldozing blocker.

The biggest crutch for Asper as he starts his NFL career, though, is his lack of agility and athleticism. With such a big build, he struggles to move quickly and will need time to adjust to the speed of NFL defenders. Still, he fits the Vikings’ zone blocking scheme and should have an opportunity to create a role for himself in Minnesota.

In order to make room on the 53-man roster for Asper and recently acquired cornerback A.J. Jefferson, the Vikings parted ways with offensive tackle Patrick Brown and cornerback Zackary Bowman. Both survived the final cut, but the Vikings obviously found more-suitable options to fill their spots on the roster.

Asper has the potential to evolve into a reliable backup a la Joe Berger. His size and strength, along with the ability to play multiple positions, provides built-in potential.

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