Minnesota Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill has had his best statistical season in 2020, after exploding onto the scene in 2018 as a rookie many thought would be a 2/3 year project minimum. With a season long grade of over 77 (out of 100), O’Neill has improved by nearly 20-points since his rookie season.
Now, especially with Ezra Cleveland looking like a long-term solution at right guard (and first-round center Garrett Bradbury yet again struggling), the Vikings and O’Neill both clearly want to keep the right tackle around for the foreseeable future… Regardless of WHERE on the line that is.
O’Neill spoke with Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press about an extension (and more), saying:
“I love Minnesota, I love the Vikings, I love everybody here”.
Tomasson asked O’Neill about sticking around for the long haul, saying:
“I believe in our team, I believe in our locker-room, and I believe in our coaches and yes, absolutely [I want to stay]”
I clearly added the last part, but I think that’s how it was meant to be portrayed. The other interesting aspect is the talk of moving O’Neill to the left side, something that I personally disagree with. O’Neill has steadily improving as we laid out in the intro, and moving him to the most important position on the line (which also happens to be the highest paid position, not a coincidence in the context of this article) may end up hurting both tackle spots.
Beyond that, I am over this team’s philosophy of moving players around instead of just investing in players who, you know, play that position before getting here?
There’s always some movement and change from college to the NFL on the line, but few teams have shuffled their lineman from not only side-to-side but position-by-position (and side-by-side). Tackles to guard, centers to guard, it’s why O’Neill had a low-60 rookie season that we in Vikingsland look back on like one of the best rookie seasons from a tackle. Because we have such low expectations and quality of play.
“If the believe in me [to play left tackle], I will attack that responsibility with everything I’ve got to the best from my ability, and [the] same with the right side”.
Let’s hope so.