Vikings Coach Confirms Left Side of OL is Set

Nov 1, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland (72) after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

There are still quite a few points of uncertainty along the Vikings OL, but the left side appears to be set. The recent press conference from Kevin O’Connell indicated that the Christian Darrisaw/Ezra Cleveland pair will be the two starters.

Take a look at one of the Darrisaw quotes:

He naturally sometimes just does things based upon the right play – the smart way to hit a block, how to pass off a stunt – just understanding how we want to execute in the screen game, the play-pass game. I couldn’t be more excited about where he’s at right now.

Recently, we’ve heard some rumblings about Darrisaw getting compared to one of the game’s best LTs. Clearly, there is a lot of optimism about where the sophomore can go.

O’Connell pivots from the Darrisaw praise into some discussion of Cleveland, the third-year LG:

And then pairing him on that side with Ezra, we’re really starting to see two guys. I think that’s important as we talk about the right side and knowing we’ve got Brian O’Neill on the other side. Having that left side getting as many reps as we possibly can in conjunction with some of those other competitive spots right now is really important.

The final portion of that quote is important. Coach references “those other competitive spots” after discussing Darrisaw, Cleveland, and O’Neill. In other words, the competition is finished at LT, LG, and RT. We all know who the players will be at those spots. RG and center, in contrast, are still up for debate.

Drafting Ed Ingram, to my mind, was confusing, partly due to Cleveland’s presence along the left side. My thinking was that the left side of the Vikings OL was set, so bringing in another LG in the second round was peculiar. During camp, though, we’ve seen Ingram compete with Jesse Davis for the starting RG spot.

Meanwhile, Chris Reed is pushing Garrett Bradbury for the starting center spot. It looks like the competition is just getting going, with the preseason games still ahead. Reed is making the adjustment to NFL center pretty late in his career, which is no small task. It’s plausible he wins the job, though, since he recently played well for the Colts.

It’s fortunate for the Vikings to feel confident in the left side of the OL. The Darrisaw/Cleveland duo will form a young, upside pair that can thrive in several areas. Both move well, so screens to the left side will be something to watch for. Each can climb to the second level, making runs more likely to succeed behind those two. If both take a step forward in pass pro, then Minnesota’s two young offensive linemen will prove the head coach right.