Offensive Guard Upgrade Visits the Vikings

Could This Dalton
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Help for Kirk Cousins might be in sight. The most-hit quarterback and one of the most sacked players in the league might get an upgrade at an offensive guard spot. Ezra Cleveland and Ed Ingram have been manning the OG positions since last year’s draft with mixed performances. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has seen enough and is seeking help in the free agency pool.

Offensive Guard Upgrade Visits the Vikings

Offensive Guard Upgrade Visits the Vikings
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dalton Risner, a former second-round pick of the Denver Broncos, has been available in free agency all offseason. The Vikings now bring him in for a visit, according to Mike Klis who is covering the Broncos. He was the first to report the upcoming visit and tweeted: “Per source, former Broncos starting LG Dalton Risner is visiting with the Minnesota Vikings. Makes sense as Vikings OL coach is Chris Kuper, assistant OL coach is Justin Ruscati.”

Ian Rapoport wrote: “Some OL help on the way? Source says that former Broncos guard Dalton Risner is on his way to visit the Vikings, potentially filling a need into training camp. Risner started 62 games over the last four years for Denver and is the top OL available.”

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.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

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.

According to PFF, no player allowed more QB hits than Cleveland in 2022. He also ranked fourth-worst in pressures allowed. His counterpart Ed Ingram has been even worse as he allowed the most sacks, second-most hits, and the most pressures, not just on the team, in the whole league. Risner would certainly be an upgrade over Cleveland and Ingram, especially in pass protection. Why he is still available is a mystery.

If he sticks around and signs a contract, it would create quite an interesting scenario. Do the Vikings keep their two starters and Risner? He probably won’t sign with a team to sit on the sidelines. Ingram has been a second-round pick from the current regime. It feels highly unlikely that he would get axed after just one year, no matter how much he struggled. They viewed him as a talented player a year ago and he slightly improved over his rookie campaign.

Kirk Cousins Is Getting Blasted
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets sacked by Miami Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts. © JIM RASSOL/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cleveland, meanwhile, came as an offensive tackle into the league but was moved to guard. He has improved in every season with the Vikings but his pass protection is still a headache while he is an excellent run blocker. Interstingly, Cleveland is in his contract year and Risner’s signing could open the door for a potential trade to a team that needs either guard or tackle help

Minnesota had $18 million in cap space according to OTC. Danielle Hunter’s new deal has not been published in detail but because of his void years, there should still be some cash available for Risner’s signing. A pass-heavy offense under the leadership of Kevin O’Connell with a protected Cousins throwing to Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, K.J. Osborn, and Jordan Addison would be scary. So far, it is still a theory but it became much more real with the latest news.

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