There Are 3 Theories about Dalton Risner

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The Minnesota Vikings met with offensive guard Dalton Risner, formerly of the Denver Broncos, on Tuesday. Offensive guard has been a significant weakness on the offense for a decade. Many players tried, but nobody has been able to fix it. Risner is a different type of guard than the two Vikings starters, as he is a decent pass-blocker, while the strong suit of Ed Ingram and Ezra Cleveland is the running game.

There Are 3 Theories about Dalton Risner

There Are 3 Theories About Dalton Risner
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Risner’s potential role in Kevin O’Connell’s offense has been controversial among Vikings fans since the news of the visit first broke. The head coach talked about Risner but was careful not to release any information about the guard’s potential role.

“I look at it as, the personnel department, working in conjunction with our staff, we’re always looking for ways to find good football players when they’re available. We really just wanted to bring him in and get to know him a little bit better, use the process of a visit to do that, and see if we can possibly take what we think is a strong group and make it even better. It’s going to be a process that starts with that visit, and I think it’s gone really well so far. We’ll just continue to kinda see if that’s something that makes sense for both ourselves and Dalton.”

So who would he replace?

Option 1 – Ed Ingram

The right guard was picked in the second round of the 2022 draft to finally fix the right guard spot after Oli Udoh handled those duties in 2021. Competing with Chris Reed and Jesse Davis, Ingram won the starting role in training camp and started all 18 contests. Unsurprisingly, the former LSU lineman struggled in his debut season, especially his pass protection was worrisome, but stepping on Kirk Cousins’ foot multiple times was also memorable.

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According to PFF, Ingram led the league among guards in quarterback pressures allowed (58), gave up the second-most QB hits (18), and gave up the most sacks (11) by a whopping difference of four more than the second-placed player Bobby Evans who is now also on the roster. His pass-block efficiency ranked him 70th of 72 guards with at least 400 snaps.

Of course, some growing pains are expected when rookies step on the field, and it feels unlikely to give up on a player a year after drafting him with a second-round pick, but Risner would undoubtedly be an upgrade. The ex-Bronco played left guard in Denver but right tackle in college, so a position change to right guard doesn’t seem too much to ask.

Option 2 – Ezra Cleveland

Cleveland is an interesting personality. He was part of the 2020 draft class, headlined by Justin Jefferson. Coming into the league as a left tackle, the Vikings had Riley Reiff at that spot and moved Cleveland to right guard. After one season, he started at left guard, where he has been for two seasons. His run-blocking skills are borderline elite, while his pass protection is close to Ingram’s level. Still, he improved in each of his three seasons with the purple team.

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His numbers were not much better than Ingram’s, giving up the third-most pressures (53), the most hits (20), and the fourth-most sacks (5) among guards. His pass-block efficiency ranks him 65th of 72 guards with at least 400 snaps.

There are two options. Either the Vikings love his run-blocking enough to ignore his horrendous pass protection, or they find someone willing to do that. He is in the final year of his rookie deal, and someone in the league with a run-first offense could be interested in him. His ability to play tackle and guard is intriguing.

Backup?

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Risner could be signed as a backup for a couple of reasons. The Vikings haven’t made any moves on their offensive line, suggesting they are happy with what they have. Also interesting is the timing. Considering that Chris Reed is out with an injury, they need a new veteran backup guard to come in in case of an injury.

Denver let Risner walk, and the offensive line was blamed for Russell Wilson’s downfall in 2022. What if the whole league knows that Risner isn’t particularly good, and that’s why he is available in August? However, players are always available this late, and some are excellent reinforcements.


Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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