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Scout's Notebook: Vikings OLG Steve Hutchinson

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By Nolan Nawrocki

OLG Steve Hutchinson
Minnesota Vikings
Height: 6-5 1/8 Weight: 315 Speed: 5.14

Notes: Married with two children. Prepped in Florida, where he was honored as one of 33 players on the state's All-Century team. A two-time captain at the University of Michigan, he made 45 career starts (primarily at left guard) and did not allow a sack his final two seasons, becoming the fourth player in Big Ten history to be named first-team all-conference all four years (1997-2000). Had shoulder surgery after the '99 season. Was selected by the Seahawks in the first round (17th overall) of the 2001 NFL draft, one pick ahead of college teammate Jeff Backus (who went to the Lions). Played five seasons in Seattle (2001-05) before signing a front-loaded, seven-year, $49 million offer sheet from the Vikings that the Seahawks were unable to match much to the ire of Mike Holmgren. Hutchinson, who serves as a Vikings captain, has started all 143 games in which he has played in his career and has garnered All-Pro recognition every year since '03. Suffered a broken fibula in '02 and missed 12 games. Broke his thumb in Week 12 and will be playing with the injury the rest of the season.

Positives: Is very well-built with good mass and body length — has a prototype build. Plays smart, shows good awareness to stunts and games and switches off blocks quickly. Is a gritty, tough competitor and seeks to bury his man in the dirt. Has good in-line, finishing strength to create some movement in the run game when defenders are lined up over the top of him. Plays with good balance with natural, trunk strength and is aggressive fitting on linebackers on the second level. Can erase safeties on short pulls and traps. Extremely durable.

Negatives: Is stiff in the hips, tightly wound and plays too upright. Relies on his upper-body strength, bends at the waist and can be outleveraged. Struggled to handle the quickness and power of Albert Haynesworth and gave up a sack against the Redskins — could do a better job of handling the edge in pass protection, and has some limitations adjusting laterally to movement. Could do a better job of clearing his feet through traffic and lumbers to the second level. Is a 33-year-old 10-year veteran, and his age is beginning to show.

Summary: A strong, high-effort competitor, Hutchinson is very dependable and can pave lanes in the run game. However, he is not as quick off the ball and does not play as strong as he did at his peak. Age is clearly beginning to take its toll, as he can be overmatched against better competition, as he was against Washington. Still brings a defensive demeanor to the line and gets by on his grit and toughness. A trained hands fighter who is most effective mauling defenders in the run game, Hutchinson grades out the highest of any Vikings offensive lineman.

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