Blake Brandel May Have an Important Role in 2022
Through training camp and the preseason, there has been no guarantee that Blake Brandel is going to make the team.
After two games, though, it looks like the third-year offensive tackle has a role. Indeed, the Vikings are looking for a backup tackle, someone capable of filling in if Christian Darrisaw or Brian O’Neill miss time. Brandel may end up fulfilling this responsibility.
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote about his unique role last year. At times, he was brought in as the sixth offensive lineman/jumbo tight end, allowing him to make an on-field impact even when he wasn’t getting the start. It’s tough to know if the new coaching staff will turn to him for the same tasks, but it does look like he has a good shot at being the main backup at offensive tackle.
After the opening preseason game, Blake Brandel was one of the top graded Vikings players on PFF. He finished the game with an 88.1 grade.
In the most recent game, Oli Udoh was responsible for allowing four pressures, per PFF. In the end, I think Udoh will make the team, but it’s possible he’ll find himself behind Brandel. Jesse Davis could be relied on to take some snaps at tackle, but he’s currently in a battle for the RG job. Otherwise, the main competition is with Timon Parris and Vederian Lowe, both of whom are lower on the team’s depth chart.
In the above clip, you’ll see Ty Chandler take the carry in for Minnesota’s lone touchdown against San Francisco. Brandel, number 64, does a nice job at the beginning of the play by getting his arms extended as he turns his man. In so doing, Chandler has more room to hit his hole.
The defender eventually works off of Brandel’s block to fight back into the play, but Brandel sticks with him. The play resulted in a score, and Minnesota’s OT deserves a lot of credit for making it a reality.
Obviously, we’re looking for Minnesota’s starting tackle tandem to be as excellent as we all hope. Good health and performance from Darrisaw and O’Neill would allow the offense to have a much easier time, especially in the passing game. If either of the starters need to miss time, though, it’s important to have someone who can allow the offense to keep performing at a high level.
Blake Brandel may be up to the task.
He came into the league as the 203rd pick in the 2020 draft. As a rookie, he didn’t get onto the field, but that changed in 2021. Last year, he was active for 13 games, playing 65 snaps on offense and 59 on special teams. My expectation is that these numbers will increase in 2022.