Vikings Coach Identifies O-Lineman Who Will “Ascend in a Hurry”

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) celebrate after the touchdown in the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Darrisaw, as we all know, will play a large part in Minnesota’s 2022 season. If the sophomore continues to show off the abilities that made him a rookie success, the Vikings will boast a strong tackle tandem. In so doing, the offensive line will have a shot at rising above its modest lot in life.

In his recent interview with Gabe Henderson, Kevin O’Connell offered his praise for the left tackle. “We’ve got two good tackles,” O’Connell explains, “we’ve got two really good tackles. A really good young player on the left side in Christian that’s going to ascend in a hurry.” Shortly thereafter, Minnesota’s head coach suggests that it would be foolish to “put a ceiling over him for how good he could possibly be.” He insists that when you turn on the tape, you notice that Darrisaw has “a physical skill set” that will make him a tremendous offensive lineman.

Heading into the 2021 draft, the Vikings had a clear need at left tackle. The team moved on from veteran Riley Reiff to save money, and very little was done in free agency to fill the hole. Mock drafts commonly paired the Vikings with Christian Darrisaw.

During the actual draft, things got a little dicey. The team traded down, and it looked like Darrisaw may not be available by the time the Vikings were on the clock. Thankfully, the LT slid all the way to 23rd. A little bit of luck goes a long way.

Darrisaw impressed in his rookie season, earning a 77.3 run blocking score on PFF – the 15th-best number among tackles. Overall, he came in at 36th out of 83 tackles. Not bad for a rookie who had to overcome an early injury to eventually earn his way into the starting lineup.

Now, there’s an important follow up to all of this: a strong rookie season is merely the beginning. If 2021 was his ceiling, Christian Darrisaw will be relatively underwhelming, given his first-round background. Ideally, the level of play we all saw last year will be the LT’s floor. Moving up from here is a possibility for precisely the reasons K/O identified. Darrisaw partners that humongous frame with some nimble feet. His ability to overcome the injury also suggests he’s a hard worker and that he did plenty of classroom time to understand the offense.

The center position remains a question, and there is going to be an open competition at RG. The positive is that the coaching staff seems confident in its tackle tandem. Getting Darrisaw’s game to another level is simply one way the team can take a step forward in 2022.