The Vikings Right Guard Battle May Already Be Over
When the Minnesota Vikings drafted Ed Ingram in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the long-term plan was for the LSU product to be the Vikings right guard of the future. This blueprint should sound have sounded eerily familiar to Vikings fans when the selection was made considering Rick Spielman selected Wyatt Davis in the third round just one year earlier.
This time around though, it seems that the plan is coming into fruition. In fact, it might even be happening faster than the Vikings themselves originally anticipated.
When free agency first started, the Vikings quickly brought on two offensive linemen with guard experience: Chris Reed and Jesse Davis. As training camp began, Davis was taking snaps with the first team at the right guard spot while Ingram slotted in at the position with the second team. While the rookie was showing flashes of solid play, Davis appeared to be the favorite to start. I even went so far as to predict as much in my 53-man roster projection.
Then, last week something strange happened. Ingram got to take snaps with the starters while Davis stepped back to run with the second team. Now, this wasn’t the first time that Ingram had taken snaps with the 1s. Whenever Davis took “veteran’s days” to rest and rehab a lingering knee injury, it was the LSU product that stepped up into that starting role. However, it was the first time that Davis took snaps with the second team offensive line.
The battle for right guard was on going into the Vikings first preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Interestingly, it was Davis who got snaps with the starting offensive line, but it did not go swimmingly for the former Miami Dolphin. He gave up a sack and looked a step slow.
Then, Ingram came into the game for 30 snaps, and looking back at them, it is tough to find a single one where he did not own the Raiders defensive front. He performed terrifically in both run blocking and pass protection, opening up lanes for RBs Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler while keeping QBs Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond on their feet.
Today, we’re about a week removed from this position battle officially beginning, and already it may be over. If the regular season started today, my guess for the starting Vikings right guard would be Ed Ingram without any hesitation. Just one year after the Vikings completely whiffed on a right guard, it seems that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has completely rectified it.
Ingram’s immediate impact is a terrific sign for the future with Adofo-Mensah’s knowledge of the NFL Draft process. The rookie’s emergence as the starter in 2022 is also the best-case scenario for the present, though. While Jesse Davis has experience at the right guard spot, his greatest value to the Vikings does not lie in his capabilities as a full-time starter. Rather, it is his versatility across the entire offensive line.
If you look at his time in Miami, he has spent time playing every position on the offensive line other than center. The Minnesota Vikings do not have an unfamiliarity with injuries in recent years. Should someone on the o-line end up going down for a few weeks at some point in the year, the ability to throw in an experienced player like Davis anywhere is underrated. With Ingram holding down the right guard spot, they won’t have to worry about the production at that position.
Overall, Ingram’s fast development is outstanding for the Vikings both in the present and moving into future years. It’s been a very long struggle to find consistently average, let along good or great, play at the interior offensive line positions. The new LSU product is a massive leap in the right direction.