Some welcome consistency returns with the Vikings’ offensive line heading into the 2022 season. While not elite last season, this unit allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL. They also posted a 4.7% sack rate when attempting to pass; this was good for 5th-best in the league. The Vikings’ offensive line has some new pieces and old questions to answer, but they are in an excellent position to maintain these positive stat lines.
Consistency At Both Tackle Positions
I love consistency almost more than ability when it comes to the offensive line. A unit that has played together and knows each other’s skill sets can be a huge boon to protecting the quarterback. Christian Darrisaw at left tackle and Brian O’Neill at right tackle are excellent examples.
As my colleague John Boyd noted in his earlier prediction of the Vikings’ offensive line for 2022, Darrisaw was solid after missing the first games of the season due to injury. He quickly passed the eye test that has Vikings fans excited at a potential stalwart in the position that protects Kirk Cousins’ blind side. His highlight reel is encouraging, but for me, the fact that he played in 12 games last season is the consistency I’m after.
Brian O’Neill does one better than Darrisaw, however, as he played in all 17 games for the Vikings last season. Further, he logged 100% of the offensive snaps. He also started and played 16 games in 2020, and 15 in 2019. This consistency is more than encouraging, and if Darrisaw continues to impress in his second season, this offensive line is anchored quite well.
Depth for the interior
The term “consistency” could have been applied again here in terms of the experience that is here in Minnesota, but “depth” is the more appropriate descriptor for this group. Ezra Cleveland played in all 17 games last season, and free agent newcomer Jesse Davis played in 16 of 17 games for the Dolphins. According to cbssports.com, Davis is listed as the potential starter at right guard, and Ezra Cleveland would backup rookie Ed Ingram at left guard, more to come on him later.
The comforting thing about the aforementioned Ezra Cleveland is that he can play both guard positions if need be. Injuries to the offensive line should be expected every year, and teams need versatile players at the ready. The only real questionable piece on the interior of the Vikings’ offensive line is center Garrett Bradbury.
The Vikings have not committed to him long-term, and most fans would agree he has been good at times but has not necessarily locked himself into a starting role for ten years. Mason Cole served as a backup center last season, but with him now in Pittsburgh, there is much more pressure on the incumbent, Bradbury. The Vikings signed Austin Schlottman on a one-year deal in March, but he has only recorded 7 starts in his three years in Denver.
Wyatt Davis is another name who could fill in in a pinch, but the center spot has the least amount of proven depth on the Vikings’ offensive line. Chris Reed has also taken some second-team reps at Center in recent days as well.
The “Ed” Factor
I mentioned Ed Ingram’s name earlier as being first string left guard for the moment, but he still needs to win the job during training camp. Ingram was drafted with a 2nd round pick by the Vikings, and some thought the Vikings had reached. While I do not like reaching for players in the draft, the college tape I’ve seen of Ingram are encouraging.
First, Ingram is capable of playing both guard positions. I mentioned earlier how I thought we have good depth at the position, and this is the type of versatility that is so valuable. Second, it was exciting watching how he finished blocks. While he may not be perfect, the Vikings will not have to worry about him taking any plays off. He blocks with a tenacity that will help him be productive as a starter even if he is still developing into an NFL-caliber guard. Last, the word “scheme” comes up almost every time I look into Ed Ingram. Followed by this is the word “athleticism,” and how he is athletic enough to fit into a variety of schemes. With a new coaching staff in Minnesota, I have to think that they feel he is more than capable of fitting into their scheme, and that allows me to be encouraged about his potential.
2022 Predicted Starting Offensive Line
LT: Christian Darrisaw
LG: Ed Ingram
C: Garrett Bradbury
RG: Jesse Davis
RT: Brian O’Neill
With the tackle positions set, it will be the interior positions that have the more fun positional battles during training camp. I like the idea of Ingram immediately making an impact, but names like Wyatt Davis, Ezra Cleveland, and Chris Reed will all be in the mix as we get closer to the season.