Dalton Risner Is Doing the ‘Likes’ Thing

Even National Voices
Feb 9, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner Poses for a photo poses for a photo on the red carpet before the NFL Honors award show at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings rested all starting offensive linemen not named Ed Ingram in the team’s first preseason game last week — and the result was terrible.

The offensive trenches looked lackluster, a familiar sight for Vikings fans throughout the last decade or so.

Dalton Risner Is Doing the ‘Likes’ Thing

But because most starters didn’t play, Vikings fans shrugged and assumed the poor performance was fixable with the usual five-man rotation. And if the team decides to enhance the offensive line before the start of the regular season, free-agent OG Dalton Risner appears interested in the purple team.

Risner Is Doing
Aug 10, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) signs autographs for fans after training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Risner met with the Vikings about two weeks ago but left Eagan without a contract. The Vikings did the same with free-agent cornerback Ronald Darby recently, so general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is at least exploring the free-agent wire for credible veteran depth.

Meanwhile, Risner did the ‘Likes’ thing on the X app last week, formerly known as Twitter. Vikings fans have feverishly encouraged Minnesota to sign the man via tweet, and Risner has ‘Liked’ a few of those posts.

Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner (66) in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, scouring Twitter or Instagram for hints on a player’s future is sometimes foolhardy and certainly not scientific, but Risner’s digital activity should be considered a casual token of his apparent approval of joining the Vikings.

Risner was coworkers with current Vikings offensive line coach Chris Kuper in Denver for three years, so the relationship angle is already solidified. The Broncos drafted Risner in the 2nd Round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the man was actually linked to the Vikings via the draft lead-up process. Now, four years later, there’s a realistic path to bring him aboard as a free agent.

Could This Dalton
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Why would the Vikings sign an offensive guard, as they seem pretty well set in the trenches? Simple — improvement and depth. Left guard Ezra Cleveland’s contract expires at the end of the 2023 season. It is unclear if Minnesota is dying to have him back beyond a rookie deal. On the right side at guard, the aforementioned Ingram fired up a topsy-turvy rookie season, succumbing to gaffes and poor performance early in the season before starting to right the ship down the stretch. Signing Risner would prove the Vikings sincerity in improving the offensive line after years of mediocrity and, in some years, downright tragedy.

Moreover, Risner is an offensive guard commodity that Vikings fans aren’t used to — he protects against the pass better than the run. For years, Vikings football has showcased the inverse. Perhaps the Vikings can, once and for all, end the stale mindset of run-over-pass offensive linemen in terms of skillset emphasis and enter a free-agent agreement with Risner.

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell talks to players during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s Risner’s pass-blocking versus run-blocking splits (red = pass | blue = run) per Pro Football Focus:

  • 2019 = 69.8 (P) | 60.3 (R)
  • 2020 = 61.3 (P) | 53.7 (R)
  • 2021 = 68.5 (P) | 63.2 (R)
  • 2022 = 61.1 (P) | 53.4 (R)

And the overall grades:

  • 2019 = 64.4
  • 2020 = 61.3
  • 2021 = 68.5
  • 2022 = 61.1

Risner should be gettable for $4 to $7 million per year. The 6’5″ 310-pounder is also rather durable, playing 62 games in his career — starting all 62 — and missing only four contests in four years. He played 94% of all eligible games in Denver.

On the whole, per his social media presence, he doesn’t mind the idea of becoming a Viking.

Last summer before the start of the regular season, Adofo-Mensah added Jalen Reagor, Ross Blacklock, and Nick Mullens to the depth chart. He already has a track record for splash moves in August.

Risner turned 28 last month.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.