Brian O’Neill Listed as “Honorable Mention” in ESPN’s Top-10 List

I’ve declared Brian O’Neill as the most underrated Minnesota Viking already this offseason, but it seems ESPN has finally given the young tackle some love. Jeremy Fowler’s positional top-10 ranking concluded with the offensive tackle position this weekend. This ranking is comprised not of his own opinions, but those of 50 coaches, executives, and players around the league.

These NFL peers gave O’Neill a collective ranking that landed him in the “honorable mention” category. Alongside him were six players in the honorable mention category. Those included were Orlando Brown Jr., Penei Sewell, Jordan Mailata, Taylor Lewan, Kolton Miller, and Taylor Moton. Here is how the actual top 10 broke down:

  1. Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers
  2. Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers
  4. Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers
  5. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
  6. Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans
  7. Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
  8. Ronnie Staley, Baltimore Ravens
  9. Ryan Ramcyzk, New Orleans Saints
  10. Terron Armstead, Miami Dolphins

Apart from the absence of O’Neill from the top-10, the most notable thing for Vikings fans should be that two tackles from the 2021 draft class were mentioned in this ranking, and neither were Christian Darrisaw. It especially hurts to see Rashawn Slater, who was picked at No. by the Los Angeles Chargers, just one spot ahead of the Vikings original pick at No. 14. Minnesota obviously dealt the pick to the New York Jets where they selected Darrisaw.

That said, this feels like a very appropriate ranking of Brian O’Neill. It must be taken into account that the majority of these players on the list play left tackle, a position far more important than right.

In order to make the list at right tackle, a player must be in the tier of New Orleans’ Ryan Ramcyzk, which O’Neill is not. Ramcyzk recorded a PFF grade of 84.1 and has never posted a score of lower than 80 in his career. O’Neill has yet to break the 80 threshold and put up a grade of 73.1 in 2021. Still very good, but not on Ramcyzk’s level.

Perhaps another strong year by O’Neill makes the case for him to be included in the list ahead of the 2023 season. However, it is far more important that Christian Darrisaw develops into a player that can be considered for this sort of list. Over the course of 12 games at left tackle during his rookie season, Darrisaw put up a grade of 71.9. This is certainly promising, and with another year of development, we could see him break into that top 10 for 2023.