Brian O’Neill Considered Mid-Tier OT by Pro Football Focus

Brian O'Neill
Nov 18, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Brian O'Neill (75) blocks Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) in the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

While the Minnesota Vikings offensive line has consistently struggled with pass protection during the last decade, Brian O’Neill has served as the “lone bright spot” in the trenches since his entry into the business three years ago.

The Vikings offensive guard play alongside O’Neill is often chintzy, disabling the entirety of the line from protecting Kirk Cousins in a manner afforded to most other NFL quarterbacks. So, because O’Neill does not usually struggle, he is classified as quite good by Vikings loyalists.

O’Neill Pro Football Focus grades are steady and progressing:

  • 2018 = 63.0
  • 2019 = 70.7
  • 2020 = 78.0

In 2020, O’Neill graded as the NFL’s 24th-best overall offensive tackle overall and 10th-best run-blocker. Not bad for a third-year player.

All in all, when examining the follies of Minnesota’s offensive line, most purple analysts and fans end up with shoulders shrugged, proclaiming, “At least we have O’Neill.” He’s a commodity that seldom lets the offense down.

But as an offensive lineman compared to the other tackles leaguewide, there is a chance that Vikings brains inadvertently over-rate the 25-year-old. PFF is ranking NFL players by position amid the last couple of weeks, and the grading entity recently landed on offensive tackles.

Assuming that 64 offensive tackles comprise the field (two per team), then O’Neill would be characterized as a middle-of-the-back asset. O’Neill was ranked by PFF as the league’s 30th-best tackle. Anthony Treash of PFF mentioned about the Vikings right tackle:

“O’Neill has been average at best in pass protection throughout his three-year career, but he’s made major strides in the run game. He improved his run-blocking grade from 58.3 as a rookie to 70.2 in 2019 to a top-10 mark of 83.7 in 2020. O’Neill is tied for 18th in pressure rate allowed in that span but ranks just 41st in pass-blocking grade, meaning he is still losing far too many reps despite not being credited with an abundance of pressures allowed.

It should also be noted that Treash is the person responsbile for starting this mini-war last week:

Therefore, his credibility could be a little iffy. His decree that Hill might outshine Randy Moss in the annals of deep-ball history indicates his grasp on football is a little strange. Multiple media outlets hopped on his Hill remarks, prompting a mass-posting of various videos showcasing Moss, DeSean Jackson, and other deep-threats. It was a vintage “May in the Offseason” NFL topic.

On these rankings, however, Treash plops O’Neill into a Top 48% in the league status. Treash criticizes O’Neill’s pass-blocking, but for a “Sacks” metric — O’Neill rarely flounders. He has allowed just four sacks in 2,837 career snaps. And he’s even better on the road than at home.

Back to the rankings, PFF places O’Neill in the same conversation a Mekhi Becton of the New York Jets (ranked 29th) and rookie Penei Sewell of the Detroit Lions (ranked 31st).