The Minnesota Vikings took another step to improving the offensive line in 2021 by claiming ex-Houston Texans center Cohl Cabral off waivers on Monday, per the NFL transaction wire.
Cabral, a second-year player who was ranked the eighth-best center in the 2020 draft class by The Athletic’s Dan Brugler, enters Vikings training camp as another body who can compete and bolster the team’s depth on the interior offensive line — a position group that has been the league’s worst over the past three seasons, per Pro Football Focus.
The Vikings have 14 offensive linemen on the current roster, eight of which are interior offensive linemen.
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A southern California native, Cabral, standing 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, was recruited by Arizona State University as a tackle. He started in 12 games at left tackle as a sophomore before moving to center his junior year.
He made 24 of his next 26 starts at center (the other two at left tackle) and earned All-Pac 12 honors as the Sun Devils’ team captain. Cabral allowed just one sack in his final two seasons in college.
Brugler found Cabral to be a natural blocker on the move, possessing a strong anchor to combat bull rushes at the point of attack. Here’s Brugler’s overall analysis:
A three-year starter at Arizona State, Cabral was the starting center in former offensive coordinator Rob Likens’ scheme. Exclusively an offensive tackle most of his life, he made the transition to center prior to his junior season, receiving consulting from Sun Devils staff analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae. Cabral allowed only one sack the last two seasons at center, showcasing the versatility to play multiple positions on the line. He isn’t a top-tier athlete and needs to hone his posture and strike timing to help mask his deficiencies. Overall, Cabral needs to grow stronger at the point of attack and continue his growth on the interior, but he displays the toughness, smarts and competitive mentality to be a quality backup with position flexibility.
Cabral went undrafted, partially due to dealing with a hamstring injury in the 2020 NFL Combine, and was a practice-squad player on both the Texans and Los Angeles Rams.
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Where Cabral Lands
Taking a flyer on Cabral offers Minnesota another option for depth behind starting center Garrett Bradbury.
The Vikings also traded for former Arizona Cardinals center Mason Cole earlier this offseason. Meanwhile, Kyle Hinton, ranked the seventh-best center of the 2020 draft class by Brugler, could make a strong case as Bradbury’s backup. Cole has been projected more a guard heading into training camp, leaving the battle for backup center largely between Hinton and Cabral.
Cabral, Cole and Evin Ksierzarczyk enter as new bodies heading into camp along with rookies Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech, 21st overall) and Wyatt Davis (Ohio State, 86th overall). Both rookies are poised to become Day 1 starters.