Can Blake Brandel Learn New Tricks?

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The Minnesota Vikings have been searching for consistency on the offensive line for a good portion of the past handful of years. It took both Garrett Bradbury and Ed Ingram settling into their roles for that reality to play out, but they seemed to find it last season. Can Blake Brandel learn some new tricks with a shakeup coming at left guard?

Can Blake Brandel Learn New Tricks?

A season ago, Kevin O’Connell had what may have been the Minnesota Vikings’ best offensive line in quite some time. Between Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill, who were elite bookends, they had competent center play, and Ed Ingram stepped up his game at right guard. Dalton Risner was signed to take over for Ezra Cleveland at the left guard position, and the group looked like a well-oiled machine.

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The only problem was that the line was relatively wasted on a revolving door of quarterbacks following Kirk Cousins’ injury and a running back in Alexander Mattison who didn’t know how to hit a hole. Still, though, making a monumental change didn’t appear to be on the horizon.

Now, with Risner still unsigned and Brandel retained, the thought process appears to be that the former backup tackle will start at the guard position for the first time in his career. A 6th round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Brandel has played in 39 games for Minnesota, drawing five starts. Of them, the entirety has come at a tackle position, and while that may be deemed more demanding, the movements are substantially different than those of a guard.

Vikings Handed Same
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Risner graded out well in pass protection, but his running game left something to be desired. The decision to move on from his services could certainly be rooted there. While Aaron Jones represents a fresh start at the running back position, Brandel could be seen as a fresh alternative to being a more well-rounded option.

It remains to be seen how Brandel will acclimate to the role, and we’re certainly too far from the beginning of the season to assume the role will be given to him as well. There’s the potential that a free agent could still be brought in, or someone taken in the later rounds of the draft winds up elevating themselves into the starting lineup.

Unsung Viking
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No matter what happens, it seems straightforward that Minnesota will ask Brandel to learn some new tricks. We’ll need to keep an eye on how fruitful that is at the highest level.

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.