How often do undrafted rookie fullbacks score touchdowns on their first NFL touches? By what history has shown us, not too often.
That, however, is how Zach Line kicked off his career with the Minnesota Vikings. On his first touch as a professional football player, the SMU product took a Matt Cassel pass 61 yards for a touchdown after making two defenders miss. His early success should come as no surprise, though.
Throughout his collegiate career with the Mustangs, Line racked up 4,185 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns during his three seasons as the starting running back. He also hauled in 75 receptions for 599 yards, but never managed to score through the air.
Since joining the Vikings, he’s scored two touchdowns and amassed 73 receiving yards despite limited snaps and opportunities.
Unfortunately for Line, there’s much more to playing fullback than just catching passes and picking up yards on the ground. Especially in the Vikings’ offense, the fullbacks are expected to open holes in the running game. A big part of why Adrian Peterson was so successful last season was the lead blocking of Pro Bowler Jerome Felton, so solid blocking is clearly something Minnesota needs from its fullbacks.
At this point, Line is extremely raw as a lead blocker. Through three preseason games, he has earned a -1.5 run blocking rating according to Pro Football Focus. He wasn’t asked to block much in college, so it’s something that he’ll have to develop if he’s going to stick with the Vikings.
If he’s going to make the 53-man roster, Line will have to prove to the Vikings that he’s more valuable than current backup fullback Matt Asiata. The Utah alum has been with Minnesota since 2011, serving in a backup role at both the running back and fullback spots. Seeing as Line has shown some spark through the preseason, the Vikings might be willing to sever ties with Asiata.
There’s still more than one week before the final ax falls, but Line has put himself in position to be a serious consideration for the 53-man roster. We’ll see soon enough if the Vikings choose to keep him around.