Dalton Risner Would Shuffle Vikings Line

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The Minnesota Vikings offensive line has been an area of struggle for years, and it’s why quarterbacks have often been placed on their backsides. That isn’t the case going into 2023, but Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may be inclined to make it even better with Dalton Risner.

Dalton Risner Would Shuffle Vikings Line

Last season the Vikings went into the year with Garrett Bradbury returning as their starting center. He had been atrocious to that point in his career, but the organization would let things play out. In doing so, they watched his rebound in an unexpected way, and he became an integral anchor on the offensive line. The bookends were already great, but the guards flanking him may need some work, which is where Dalton Risner comes in.

Minnesota drafted Ed Ingram from LSU last season and immediately plugged him in as their starting right guard. He performed as you’d expect from a rookie making a huge leap, which is to say there were hiccups along the way. For the most part, Ingram settled in and developed throughout the season, aided by Brian O’Neill playing alongside him.

Dalton Risner Would
Dalton Risner of the Denver Broncos walks the red carpet before the NFL Honors Awards special at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

On the other side, Ezra Cleveland represents the veteran presence that has been starting on the line for the better part of three years. He has standout youngster Christian Darrisaw next to him, and Cleveland has held his own for Minnesota. That being said, it’s the left guard spot where Risner fits in.

Risner was a second-round pick during the 2019 NFL Draft and immediately started for the Denver Broncos. He has played 62 games in his career, starting all of them and exclusively playing at left guard. Switching sides on the line may seem insignificant, but there are plenty of moving parts. With Risner coming in to visit the Vikings, it would appear that he would overtake Cleveland’s spot on the left side.

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The ripple effects of Risner signing with Minnesota are yet to be determined. Just like Risner would need to acclimate by moving to the opposite side of the line, Cleveland would need to do so as well. This could be a depth play, pushing Cleveland to the bench and allowing Ingram a further opportunity to develop. Minnesota seemingly would be without reason to pull the plug on Ingram so early in his career, and therefore he seems like the better bet to stay.

As Kevin O’Connell continues to work his team through training camp, finding ways to better the overall 53-man roster is a must for the Vikings. Coming off a season in which so many games were close, finding every advantage in a year where the NFC North has no clear-cut favorite remains imperative. Kirk Cousins was on his back plenty last season, and even while the offensive line has taken steps forward, there are still improvements to be made.

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What type of contract Risner winds up with remains to be seen, and there are no guarantees he leaves Minnesota with a new deal anyways. What is worth watching is how the visit goes and if a deal can be struck. From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the Vikings will utilize the new offensive lineman, but raising the overall water level of a team is something everyone can get on board with.

After years of a leaky offensive line, it seems the Vikings are fully committed to having one of the better units across the league, and Risner certainly adds to that notion.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.