Have the Vikings Learned Nothing on the O-Line?

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The Minnesota Vikings have signed many free agents this offseason, but guard Dalton Risner has been the most notable unsigned. Has the organization learned nothing about solidifying the roster up front?

Have the Vikings Learned Nothing on the O-Line?

When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah came to an agreement with the former Denver Broncos guard last season, Dalton Risner came in and quickly earned a starting role for Kevin O’Connell. Taking over for Ezra Cleveland, the performance was solid enough for the organization to move the Week 1 starter to Jacksonville. Risner then continued to show up every week, and he was every bit as productive as expected when being clamored for while on the open market.

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Now, multiple weeks into free agency, Risner has again found a lukewarm market and has even switched representation. He is seeking a realistic deal for a starting guard, and that may mean the Vikings aren’t interested, given the price point, but the alternative can’t be what they are seriously considering.

As an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, Blake Brandel has played 39 games, making five starts, but he has only operated as a tackle. Minnesota used him as a backup for both Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill, but he has never been plugged in at the guard position. After the organization signed him to a three-year deal for $9.5 million this offseason, it appears that Minnesota is content with him moving to a new position.

Vikings Free Agency
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Regardless of Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford, Brett Favre, or any other number of quarterbacks over the years, each has found difficulty dropping back behind makeshift offensive lines. Risner didn’t grade out exceptionally in the run game but was admirable when pass-blocking. O’Connell hasn’t ever emphasized the ground game, and if his line allows passers to make decisions, it would seem that they are doing their job.

Maybe Minnesota is playing a game of chicken with Risner. He should be seeking a greater payday than he received a year ago after substantiating his performance with another organization. The Vikings could be crying poor and looking to retain his services at a discount. No matter the ultimate reality, someone like Risner filling the guard position is infinitely more valuable than asking Brandel to figure out a new role.

The Dalton Risner
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There is a path for Sam Darnold to be a capable quarterback for the Vikings. A better coaching staff and set of circumstances will play favorably into his hand, but rolling the dice on the offensive line doesn’t help the veteran or any incoming rookie, and it simply doesn’t make sense to cheap out on protecting the passer.

If it isn’t going to be Risner, it has to be a high draft pick or someone else, but it certainly isn’t Brandel if we’re being objective.


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.

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