Vikings Offensive Lineman Has Lofty Goals
The play of the offensive line was not pretty in the last decade. Despite Investing high draft picks and signing free agents. Solidifying the offensive line is one of the most important tasks on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah´s agenda. Now, Vikings fans finally have a ray of hope in their two offensive tackles. Brian O’Neill, a 2018 second-rounder, has been fantastic for the Vikings since he holds the starting spot. After the 2021 season, he even went to his first Pro Bowl.
Among Vikings fans and NFL experts, Brian O’Neill is well known as the underrated Viking. However, he finally starts to get some recognition.
In his last draft as the Vikings’ general manager, Rick Spielman traded down from the 14th spot and still got the top left tackle prospect, Christian Darrisaw, at pick 23. He had a slow start after missing the first four games because of a core muscle surgery. In Week 5, he split reps with veteran Rashod Hill and in Week 6 against the Panthers and their pass rusher Brian Burns, he earned his first career start and played every snap.
Darrisaw instantly showed dominance in the running game. In the passing game, he struggled at times but still showed promise.
Once he replaced Rashod Hill, he was a significant upgrade and one of the best first-year left tackles in the last decade.
Room to Grow
However, Darrisaw has room to grow and is putting in the work to be the best version of himself, as Chris Tomasson from the Pioneer Press reports.
“I’m trying to improve in the pass game and the rush game and just watching film from last year and taking away those things that I didn’t do well. Just like staying square on my pass sets and just like playing one play at a time. I kind of got frustrated sometimes last year when I had a bad play or whatever, so I’m just like throwing all that stuff out and taking one play at a time, attacking it.”– Christian Darrisaw
In run blocking, Darrisaw received a PFF grade of 77.3, which is good enough to rank him 15th out of 79 eligible tackles. In pass blocking, he has to get better, as he ranked 53rd of 80 tackles. The marvelous play in the running game proves he can be just as good at protecting his quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
After shuffling around offensive linemen in the last decade, the organization hopes to finally have at least the two important tackle spots figured out for the long haul. Darrisaw welcomes that.
“I know I’ve got a lot of work to do proving every day I can be that guy, and hopefully I can be that guy here in Minnesota for a long time.”– Christian Darrisaw, wants to be the franchise left tackle
Last year, Darrisaw missed the full offseason because of his core surgery in January, and he had another procedure in August. After a few practices, his first time going against high-level NFL edge-rushing was in an actual NFL game.
“This really is my first complete full offseason. I came out in [spring drills] and just improved on everything, and hopefully it shows out this season. I love practicing and getting better and learning a new playbook. It’s really exciting.”– Darrisaw, is excited about improving his game
Iron Sharpens Iron
This year, he will match up with two All-Pro caliber players all summer, which should help him, as iron sharpens iron. In addition, Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith are among the elite pass rush duos in the NFL.
“It’s tough battles every day in practice, but it’s only going to make us tackles better. It’s definitely going to get us game ready because Danielle and Za’Darius, I feel like they’re one of the best [duos] in the game. If I’m going against those guys every day, once you get into the game, it’s going to be easier.”Darrisaw, talking about the tough matchups in practice
In 2021, the Vikings sent five players to the Pro Bowl. Cousins, Cook, Jefferson, Harrison Smith, and Darrisaw´s tackle colleague, Brian O’Neill, all earned the honors. In 2022, the Vikings’ offensive lineman aims to be a part of that group.
“That’s the goal for everybody in the room, every starter. You want to be in the Pro Bowl.”– Darrisaw, on goals
If Darrisaw can improve his pass blocking, he can be an elite tackle in the NFL. The first in a long time for the franchise. He has the potential and is doing the work, which is a great combination.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a fable for numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things to do. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt