Dalton Risner Says He’s “Ready” to Play for the Vikings

Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner (66) in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings fell in their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past weekend.

One big reason behind this loss was the play of their offensive line, particularly on the interior.

Minnesota’s offensive line has been a topic of concern for multiple years, but the team opted to bring back virtually the same group from 2022 into 2023. However, during training camp, the team seemed to be very close to making another addition: Dalton Risner.

Should the Vikings Consider Dalton Risner?

Dalton Risner
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Following Minnesota’s loss to the Buccaneers, the “Vikings Central” account on X (formerly Twitter) posted, “Dalton Risner on the phone tomorrow.” Risner himself responded, “I’m ready.” Take a look:

The Vikings certainly looked like they could use some extra help on the interior of their offensive line on Sunday. Ed Ingram earned a PFF grade of 46.2 on the day, and his pass-blocking grade of 40.3 was the worst of any offensive lineman in the game.

These struggles stem back to his rookie season of 2022 when he had the third-worst pass blocking grade of any interior offensive lineman. His 63 allowed pressures were the most in the NFL as well.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Granted, the Vikings had to go up against one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL yesterday, so perhaps it isn’t time to overreact yet in Ingram’s second season.

However, a more concerning development from Sunday was the fact that Garrett Bradbury was only able to get through seven snaps before a back injury knocked him out for the remainder of the afternoon. It was Bradbury’s back that hindered him down the stretch of the 2022 season, so this is a situation to be monitored heading into Week 2.

Risner is the antithesis of what the Vikings have typcially done at the guard position. While Minnesota has usually opted to prioritize run-blocking in their choices for interior offensive linemen, Risner goes against the grain and thrives in pass-protection.

Throughout his career with the Broncos, the four-year veteran has been superb in pass protection with PFF grading him at 73.6 in 2021 and 72.6 in 2022 for Denver. Last season, he allowed just 29 pressures in 598 pass-blocking snaps.

Dec 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (85) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) and guard Dalton Risner (66) in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With the league continuing to trend pass-heavy, this would be a key addition to the offense, especially since Kirk Cousins is entering his age-35 season. A year ago, he was hit a career-high 84 times. This number must go down not only to ensure an efficient offense but also to keep Cousins healthy and on the field.

The Vikings did a very poor job of protecting their QB on Sunday as Cousins was pressured 13 times over the course of the game. It isn’t the sole reason that they lost this game, but the performance of the offensive line must be better moving forward regardless of if the Vikings take another look at Risner or not.

Now, Minnesota heads into a short week where they turn around and play against the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. Last year, this defense gave the Vikings fits all evening long, and Kevin O’Connell’s group will need a very different outcome if they want to avoid an 0-2 start to the season.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.