After QB, Vikings Have One Large Roster Mystery.

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Unless the Minnesota Vikings secretly adore newcomer quarterback Sam Darnold, a new quarterback will be drafted in eight days.

After QB, Vikings Have One Large Roster Mystery.

Darnold may start out of the gate in 2024, but in time, the new guy will take over.

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Across the rest of the roster, though, one large roster mystery remains: left guard. Dalton Risner, the left guard from 2023, hasn’t re-signed in Minnesota, and no other startable options exist besides Blake Brandel.

Until a month ago, most Vikings fans considered Brandel a reservist commodity, but after signing a three-year, $9.5 million contract, he could be on deck as Risner’s replacement and on his way to a starter’s job. If the Vikings use a draft pick before Round 4 or so, however, on a left guard, Brandel could face summer competition at the spot.

Wacky Justin
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Minnesota currently owns picks No. 11 and 23, which are forecasted by most to be packaged and shipped to another team via trade for a quarterback of the future. Then, the Vikings will pick again at No. 108, where a guard could reasonably join the club and contend for a starter’s job.

These are the LG contenders to monitor around that spot:

  • Christian Haynes (Connecticut)
  • Christian Mahogany (Boston College)
  • Zak Zinter (Michigan)
  • Trevor Keegan (Michigan)

On Brandel, he produced a 55.3 Pro Football Focus grade last year on 163 offensive snaps after the Vikings coaching staff moved him from tackle to guard. Truth be told, that score isn’t very promising, so Vikings fans will hope for improvement if Brandel is indeed tapped for a starter’s assignment. Just when the club had the guard spot fixed — it was a problem for years — some are paranoid that Minnesota could slide back to half-measured solutions.

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Regarding the chances of a Risner reunion, those are slim. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah talked about this status on the KFAN network about a month ago. The young executive said, “Where we’ve wanted to be is best available. That’s where we’ve tried to set ourselves up both in a draft and acquisition standpoint. So every option is on the table. That’s all I can say about that.”

That sounded like diplomacy for “he gone.”

And in March, Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling told KFAN about Brandel, “The money they gave Brandel, specifically the years, did make me wonder if he’s going to get that chance to start … the fact they gave him a three-year deal, that’s not something you just do because you have too. I don’t think his market would have been that hot … I do think there’s a chance that he will get an opportunity to compete for that spot.”

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Therefore, barring a last-second Risner sequel, the left guard position for the 2024 Vikings is a toss-up between Brandel and a rookie, nominating the roster spot as one of Minnesota’s few remaining mysteries.

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