Vikings GM Should Make a Phone Call
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed some roster flaws in the offseason. Signing Byron Murphy and drafting Mekhi Blackmon was necessary to improve the cornerback room. Marcus Davenport replaces Za’Darius Smith, and Jordan Addison is supposed to compensate for the departure of Adam Thielen.
Vikings GM Should Make a Phone Call
But he ignored one position, and it could come back to bite the purple team. The Vikings are currently scheduled to go into the upcoming season with the same five starting offensive linemen, despite the 2022 efforts resulting in Kirk Cousins ending up as the most-hit quarterback in the NFL.
How bad those hits are – especially that amount – was highlighted in the Netflix documentary ‘Quarterback,’ which showed Cousins in pain for a lengthy period during the 2022 season with a rib injury.
The two offensive guards that allowed the most hits in the whole league were Ezra Cleveland and Ed Ingram, and quite frankly, the difference to the third-ranked player wasn’t close. There are some scheme changes Kevin O’Connell can make to get the ball out of Cousins’ hands quicker, but that would limit the explosiveness of the passing attack.
Of course, the focus of the offense should continue to be hitting the dynamic wideouts for big gains, and for that, the offensive line must keep defenders away from the passer to give both the QB and the receiver time to develop the play.
The Vikings neither signed a lineman in free agency nor drafted one. Only signing some camp bodies and undrafted rookies will not improve the starting group, but a current free agent could help. Dalton Risner, the former Denver Broncos guard, visited the Vikings last week, but he somehow was allowed to leave the building without a deal.
Ed Ingram, meanwhile, was the only starter of the offensive line to play in the preseason, and it was a disaster. He didn’t look like a starter, not even against the Seahawks’ backups. Nick Mullens was in trouble a few times because of Ingram, and he only played a couple of drives. PFF attributed Ingram with a horrendous pass-blocking grade of 43.6.
After his catastrophic debut season, Ingram should be on a short leash. He was a second-round pick just a year ago, but his draft status isn’t enough to keep him on the field while he ruins drives for the Vikings. Protecting the pocket-passing quarterback should be the front office’s and coaching staff’s priority instead of trying to look better by forcing a high draft pick to play.
Risner had been rumored to be the Vikings’ pick in 2019 until they took Garrett Bradbury with their first-round selection. Since then, Risner has moved to guard and become a solid player at the Vikings’ weak spot.
The former Bronco allowed 29 pressures in 2022, Ingram allowed 58, and Cleveland 53. He also allowed only 6 QB hits, the two Vikes combined for 38. Similar to what his scouting report said coming out of college, he is still a great pass-blocker. Considering Minnesota’s pass-heavy offense that came with Kevin O’Connell, their passing percentage was third in the league; having good pass-blockers should be something to strive for.
Risner is clearly an upgrade over Ingram, and the Vikings should strongly reconsider their decision to let him leave without a deal if they want to be a serious team in 2023.
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