There’s Only 1 Piece of Relevant Info on the Vikings First Depth Chart

Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) and teammates react during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The annual release of the first depth chart is always highly anticipated but fails to deliver.

There’s Only 1 Piece of Relevant Info on the Vikings First Depth Chart

This year, the Vikings released a depth chart that looked like they created it based on the lineups in offseason workouts lacking an update from training camp. Ivan Pace is a second-team linebacker getting run with the first-team but is listed as a third-stringer.

Piece of Relevant
Aug 18, 2020; Eagan, Minnesota, United States; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Blake Brandel (64) runs a drill at training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

But besides those orders within a position group, there has been an interesting change. Longtime backup offensive tackle Blake Brandel is listed at right guard. Brandel, 26, was a 2020 sixth-round pick of Rick Spielman.

In college, Brandel was a staple of Oregon State, starting 48 consecutive games at left and right tackle. He was considered a depth tackle or perhaps a guard at some point after putting on mass. And that is exactly how his career is trending.

The Oregon native has already exceeded expectations of a sixth-rounder as a solid backup swing tackle. Brandel replaced Christian Darrisaw in the starting lineup when he was forced to miss time with a couple of concussions.

Vikings Complementary Players Must Step Up Thursday
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackles Brian O’Neill (75) and Blake Brandel (64) perform a drill during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, Brandel was a downgrade from Darrisaw, but that was expected. He still did a solid job, and the Vikings retained the exclusive rights free agent. His position change is interesting from different perspectives.

That makes Vederian Lowe the top left tackle backup, with Oli Udoh continuing to replace Brian O’Neill with the first-round at right tackle during his recovery from a partially torn Achilles. Kevin O’Connell’s coaching staff seems to prefer the backup tackles to be responsible for one side, while the previous regime had the linemen switch sides regularly.

Feb 3, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; East lineman Vederian Lowe of Illinois (79) in the second half of the East-West Shrine Bowl at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lowe was a 2022 sixth-round selection out of Illinois. The 24-year-old had a redshirt rookie season as the fifth offensive tackle. He still made the team. Not many teams keep five OTs on their 53-man roster, showing that the Vikings think highly of him, and he showed his talent during some strong preseason outings. When Darrisaw missed parts of practice with a minor neck injury last week, it was Lowe and not Brandel taking his spot.

He is now the primary backup at left tackle, making Brandel obsolete, allowing him to switch to guard. Also interesting is the designation to right guard, as the Vikings could’ve easily kept him on the left side to play behind Ezra Cleveland, especially because depth at guard is a problem anyway.

Vikings re-sign free agent
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Brandel is backing up Ed Ingram, the second-year guard out of LSU who mightily struggled in his debut season. So the Vikings out the backup guard with a higher pedigree at the same position as the starting guard with more struggles.

It remains to be seen if that is the case, but it implies that Ingram could be on a short leash. Brandel, a versatile lineman who can play multiple spots on the offensive line, is a valuable player for the Vikings. His position change is much more notable than the depth chart order.

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