Borman Breakdown: Quarter 1 Trench Grades, Week 4 Observations

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Line Grades through 4 Games

Much more goes into analyzing a player’s performance than just an overall PFF grade, but they provide a relatively accurate barometer of how the player is doing, and it’s fun to check in every once in a while. So after the first four weeks of the season, here’s how the Vikings offensive line stacks up:
  • LT Rashod Hill: 39.3 (71st/73 tackles)
  • LG Ezra Cleveland: 57.2 (51st/75 guards)
  • C Garrett Bradbury: 54.7 (26th/33 centers)
  • RG Oli Udoh: 68.5 (25th/75 guards)
  • RT Brian O’Neill: 67.7 (31st/73 tackles)

The biggest takeaway here is clearly the performance of Hill. Aside from a penalty-heavy season opener, he’s actually done a pretty decent job. But as I noted a couple of weeks ago, his athleticism is a liability long-term, and Sunday was a perfect example of that.

Not many tackles will look good facing Myles Garrett, but the Vikings have an athletically gifted tackle in Christian Darrisaw who has the talent to match top-end pass rushers when he’s fully healthy. The sooner he can play, the better.

Here’s How the Defensive Line Grades Out:

  • DE Danielle Hunter 81.4 (11/106 edge defenders)
  • NT Michael Pierce 68.3 (35/119 interior defensive linemen)
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson 79.4 (10/119 interior defensive linemen)
  • DE DJ Wonnum 43.4 (105/106 edge defenders)
Rotational depth:
  • DE Everson Griffen 70.2 (45/106 edge defenders)
  • DE Stephen Weatherly 62.8 (72/106 edge defenders)
  • DT Armon Watts 62.4 (64/119 interior defensive linemen)
  • DT Sheldon Richardson 58.5 (76/119 interior defensive linemen)

Again, the DL grades match what most of us have seen on gamedays. Danielle Hunter has played well, and DJ Wonnum, who was making big plays in training camp, has struggled to make any sort of impact for the defense so far. He seemed to be fairly disruptive during the first couple of weeks, but lately, he’s having trouble creating pressure and finishing plays. His teammate, Everson Griffen, hasn’t had those issues.

Mike Zimmer said at his press conference on Monday that he’s been discussing Griffen’s role and how they can continue to use him while still keeping him fresh down the stretch. Griffen should be starting. Even if he doesn’t, I’d expect to see a shift in playing time beginning this week.

Now, here’s a few things that stood out to me on Sunday.

Week 4 Observations (vs. Browns)

  • Kirk Cousins was pressured often, leading to his worst performance of the year. It’s no secret that he needs a clean pocket to thrive. The Vikings’ OL can’t give him that every game. This has been a flawed formula since conception, and ultimately something will have to give
  • Dalvin Cook (ankle) wasn’t his usual explosive self
  • Justin Jefferson isn’t slowing down. Following his historic rookie season, he’s on pace for 110.5 catches, 1,436.5 yards, and 12.75 TD’s this year
  • Dede Westbrook appears to be gaining confidence in his surgically-repaired knee
  • After the first drive, the offensive line was dominated. The unit came back down to Earth quickly after a strong performance against Seattle
    • Cleveland provided a rude awakening for the OL, proving it still has a ways to go to keep up with the big boys
  • Dalvin Tomlinson has put together a couple of strong games in a row
  • Blake Lynch was all over the field. He was the third linebacker in base with Eric Kendricks and Nick Vigil. Coaches have spoken very highly of him lately, highlighting how promising of a player Lynch is. Keep an eye on #48
  • Eric Kendricks had a rare off-day. Give Cleveland credit for limiting him. The Vikings may want to watch the tape of how the Browns’ offensive linemen and tight ends block. They’re “grabby” but in a non-obvious, seemingly legal kind of way
  • Cam Dantzler needs to be starting
  • Mackensie Alexander had his best game of the season. He didn’t allow a catch on four targets. The Vikings lined up in base defense more, so he didn’t play as much as usual, but perhaps he’s starting to put things together after a slow start to the year
  • Teams continue throwing away from Patrick Peterson. He’s hasn’t been getting many chances to make an impact
  • Through four games, Greg Joseph has made 6/7 field goals and 10/11 extra points. He has 16 touchbacks on kickoffs, which is tied for 7th-most in the NFL
  • Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are ridiculous
  • Clock and game management continue to be major issues for the Vikings