Mike Tice, The Athletic Offer High Praise for Christian Darrisaw

Questions Answered: Early 2023 Draft Needs, Darrisaw as a Breakout, Mattison Trade Still Alive?
Nov 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to pass as offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Most Vikings fans feel enthusiastic about Christian Darrisaw. After trading down, the Vikings were still able snag him at 23rd overall in the 2021 draft. An offseason injury kept him off the field in the initial weeks, but he snagged the starting LT position almost immediately after coming back.

Ted Nguyen – a national writer for The Athletic – recently published a piece that considers how Minnesota’s sophomore LT may progress. In Nguyen’s mind, Darrisaw’s ability to keep developing will be crucial to Minnesota’s offense being able to take a positive step. He’s exactly right. Brian O’Neill is an excellent RT. Having another great player lined up across from the veteran RT would mean the line’s two most important spots are ready to roll.

To help with his analysis, Nguyen watched some film with Mike Tice, a former Vikings head coach and OL expert:

As with most rookies, he still has to develop from a fundamental standpoint — he allowed five sacks and 22 pressures in 11 games. I broke down some of Darrisaw’s tape with Mike Tice, a familiar voice to Vikings fans. Tice was the offensive line coach for the Vikings from 1997 to 2001, took over as interim head coach in 2001 and was officially the head coach from 2002 through 2005.

Nguyen goes on to note a main issue that Tice identifies: “Darrisaw wasn’t patient enough in his pass set. Instead of staying square, he would turn parallel toward the sideline too quickly and too often. This left him susceptible to speed rushes and inside moves.”

Darrisaw has the ability, though, to recover and still make a block:

Though this technical flaw showed up over and over again, more often than not, Darrisaw was able to compensate because of special movement skills. During the NFL’s 2011 player lockout, Tice studied every snap and concluded the No. 1 movement that an offensive lineman has to have is the ability to change directions on inside moves.

Tice gives Christian Darrisaw credit for his natural abilities: “Look at the body posture. Look what he’s capable of. He wants to be a little more patient but he’s able to recover. That’s the one thing that you can’t teach — that’s something you were born with.” Shortly thereafter, Tice notes that he’d be enthused about coaching him: “Good player. I’d take him in a heartbeat.”

Vikings fans will certainly welcome the positive assessment. The fact that he still has room to improve shouldn’t be surprising. He’s still so young and hasn’t even played a full season of NFL football. Not too many players have perfected their position after only one season. The key is simply for Darrisaw to identify the issues and continue working on them.

If he starts getting these things corrected, he’ll ascend into one of the game’s best LTs. Last year, Christian Darrisaw finished 36th overall in the PFF tackle rankings. The 23-year-old has the potential to become a much more complete player in 2022 and beyond.

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