Did a Changing of the Guard Commence for Vikings?

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For weeks, there has been speculation about how the Minnesota Vikings would handle the left guard position. Dalton Risner remains unsigned, and Blake Brandel has never played the position at the professional level. With the dust settling following the 2024 NFL Draft, did Minnesota really decide to pull the plug on line continuity?

Did a Changing of the Guard Commence for Vikings?

Blake Brandel was a quickly signed free agent for Minnesota. He filled in at both tackle spots when Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill missed time, but he never played a snap in place of Ezra Cleveland or Dalton Risner. Being asked to learn the left guard position on the fly seems like a tall order, and for a franchise that has rarely had offensive line continuity, it’s an odd proposition.

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The Vikings always seemed unlikely to use significant draft capital for the offensive line. Grabbing their quarterback of the future was going to be a focal point, and then something close to the best player available would be the focus from there. In J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner, they accomplished both of those goals, but the line went untouched until much later.

Oklahoma tackle Walter Rouse was the first 6th round selection, and lineman Michael Jurgens out of Wake Forest was grabbed in round seven. Neither should be expected to start, but Rouse could conceivably be Brandel’s replacement as the backup tackle. It would be a sizable drop-off should Darrisaw or O’Neill miss time, but that was the case when Brandel stepped in.

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If the Vikings are truly serious about turning over the starting guard spot to Brandel, they didn’t show any indications of moving on from that belief during the draft. As long as Risner remains unsigned, there will be questions as to whether he returns to Minnesota or not, but as was the case for him last offseason, it’s more of the same frustrations when trying to find a contract that makes sense.

No matter who is under center for the Vikings, continuing to provide that playcaller a strong offensive line that can keep them upright is a must. Kevin O’Connell seemed to have that a year ago, and throwing a rookie into the fire with anything less seems like a position where the youngster will be set up to fail.

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As the weeks drag on until minicamp, it could be of the utmost intrigue to see how the Vikings set up their line on paper.

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.