Christian Darrisaw Poised for All-Pro Season
When the Minnesota Vikings traded back in the first round of the 2021 draft and selected Christian Darrisaw, it was met with some skepticism. Now midway through his second year, he’s poised for an All-Pro season.
He received exactly one offer to play college football and that was from Virginia Tech. In Blacksburg, he made an impact and would start every game in the 2019 and 2020 seasons and was named All-ACC in 2020. Former Vikings GM, Rick Spielman, had heard stories about Darrisaw that intrigued him People were singing his praises about his speed, determination, and patience.
Darrisaw, now in his second year with the Vikings, grew up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. Riverdale Baptist is a small private, Christian school in Maryland that is often eclipsed by the bigger DeMatha High School.
Spielman said, at the time, that Darrisaw most reminded him of nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. Of course, he said, there’s no way to predict that, that’s just who he reminds me of the most. “When you evaluated him on tape,” Spielman said, “sometimes he made it look so easy because he’s so fluid. Sometimes you misinterpret that as not enough grit.” While he is soft-spoken and gentle, a switch trips in his brain and he becomes someone else when he plays.
Rocky Rookie Start
Being drafted wasn’t the last of Darrisaw’s hurdles. The start of his career was plagued with injuries – he had two surgeries on his groin that caused him to miss time in the spring and training camp. However, he didn’t just sit back and observe during that time. Viking staff witnessed him rehabbing as much as he was able. He did everything possible to ensure he would be back on the field quickly.
When he finally took the field in October of 2021 he proved he was worth the wait. He played his first game against the Carolina Panthers and didn’t allow a single sack the entire game. Quarterback Kirk Cousins quipped after the game that Darrisaw is so quiet and consistent you almost don’t notice he is there. Then the game is over and you see he’s been there all 70 snaps just making sure the QB is protected.
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Making a Case for Himself
Now in his second season, Darrisaw continues to have a quiet but tremendous impact. He is well on pace to have an All-Pro Season, especially with left tackles like Rashawn Slater and Trent Williams out with injuries. The door is wide open and Darrisaw is barreling through.
Darrisaw has given up 1 sack in 356 pass-blocking snaps. Through 6 weeks (Week 7 was a bye) he’s constantly proving those who underestimated him wrong. He continues asserting himself as one of the best players on a strong offensive line.
Through week 6, PFF had Minnesota rated fourth-best in run blocking and 18th in pass blocking. Darrisaw is making defenders take notice, he has all the attributes he needs to excel. He is long and rangy without being slow or bulky. Darrisaw seems to plant his body and shut down rushes but is agile and quick with strong hands. He is mobile and faster than you expect.
One of the things about becoming an offensive lineman is that it isn’t a flashy position. It doesn’t earn you a ton of ESPN top plays or stats. Usually, if you’re hearing their name being mentioned by a commentator during a game it’s not good – a penalty or breakdown in blocking.
Darrisaw doesn’t seem to care about the glitz. He plays like a man with a chip on his shoulder – quietly, consistently, and with laser focus. Darrisaw, totally in sync with left guard Ezra Cleveland, has been known to hand out pancakes to the defense.
This focus has earned him notice, PFF has him as the second-best player on the Vikings team at 79.8, which places him 5th overall in the NFL for left tackles. He is ranked 5th on an offensive line that is ranked 11th overall. His current pass-blocking grade, which is improved from last season, is a strong 82.6.
Offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of the team and rarely get the recognition they deserve. When they perform at their best you don’t notice them. They establish pockets, holes, and routes that allow the quarterback, receivers, and backs to do their job.
The o-line does the hard work that allows the offense to put points on the board. Darrisaw is certainly doing that this season for the Vikings. Minnesota is sitting solidly atop the NFC North at 5-1. If Darrisaw continues to perform at this high level, he is poised to make this his first All-Pro season.