Vikings Offensive Line Thriving through Bookends

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For years, the Minnesota Vikings have had a problem on the offensive line. With few truly mobile quarterbacks to play in recent seasons, sacks mounting have become a problem. Now, with two extremely talented bookends, the offensive line is thriving.

Vikings Offensive Line Thriving through Bookends

Not long ago, the Vikings inked right tackle Brian O’Neill to a lucrative extension. The former Pittsburgh Panther was taken in the second round of the 2018 draft, and it didn’t take long for him to develop in the league. He quickly became a premier player at the tackle position, and his presence was something Minnesota had craved for quite some time.

Offensive Line Thriving
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After going through a revolving door of options at left tackle, Minnesota finally struck gold when they grabbed Christian Darrisaw in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. Taken out of Virginia Tech, Darrisaw came in with lots of promise and immediately delivered. He looked the part of a high performer almost immediately, and when elevated to a starting role, he truly began to shine.

Now, six weeks into the 2023 season, Minnesota’s line has been the least of their worries. Darrisaw and O’Neill have combined to anchor a group that is truly thriving. This is true while Ed Ingram took his lumps early and Garrett Bradbury missed time with his back injury. Ezra Cleveland may bow out briefly due to injury, but the hope would be that free-agent veteran Dalton Risner can fill in seamlessly.

For quarterback Kirk Cousins, the development has also been positive. After routinely being sacked and pressured in recent seasons, he has only been taken down 15 times in 2023. That is the 13th most across the league and comes in well behind some signal callers with much more mobility.

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Unfortunately, the offensive line’s success hasn’t transitioned into the running game. Minnesota hasn’t got what it needs from Alexander Mattison to this point, and it may be worth taking a more extended look at Cam Akers. Cousins needs the running game to take shape if he’s going to find success through the air without Justin Jefferson.

It is disappointing that Minnesota doesn’t have their number-one receiver threat with Jefferson on injured reserve, but this offensive line gave him opportunities to shine early. Jefferson jumped out to an early lead in the receiving yardage category and was trending way up after already producing career-best numbers a season ago.

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There might not be a significant reason to care about the overall results for Minnesota the rest of the way this year, but having a good group up front should continue to pay dividends. O’Neil has already received his payday and is locked in. Darrisaw will follow suit around the same time that Jefferson gets his blank check. If Ingram can keep trending upward and the rest of the interior work in tandem, this setup could work for any quarterback in the future.

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.