Optimism Grows for Vikings’ In-House Right Guard Solution

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For the most part, the Vikings offensive line is looking pretty good.

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw, 23, has very quickly ascended into one of the NFL’s preeminent offensive lineman. Aside from injury, Brian O’Neill isn’t being slowed down anytime soon; the right tackle forms a tremendous partnership with his younger counterpart on the left side.

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Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

Along the inside is where there’s a touch more concern. However, the Vikings’ in-house solution at right guard may be in store for a sizable leap in Year 2.

The Vikings’ In-House OL Solution

As a rookie, Ed Ingram struggled. A lot.

The college LG flipped sides, getting in on every game as the starting RG. In fact, the LSU alumnus played 1168 offensive snaps, which is 100% of the total for the 2022 season.

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

Per PFF, Ingram was responsible for 4 penalties, 11 sacks, 18 hits, and 58 pressures. Clearly, the rookie had some struggles, especially in pass protection. His run-blocking grade – 63.4 – was considerably better than his pass-blocking grade – 44.4. Even getting the pass blocking closer to somewhere in the 60s would be a major boost.

Recently, he spoke with KSTP’s Darren Wolfson during OTAs. Take a peak at the quick interview:

The sophomore touts his comfort and familiarity within the Vikings offense. We learn that he relies on Chris Reed for guidance, a sensible thing to do given the veteran’s eight years of experience and five different teams. Reed has seen a lot, so it makes that he’s a resource for the younger guys.

The Vikings think highly of Ed Ingram. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have sunk the 59th pick from the 2022 NFL Draft into him (a pick they acquired via trade). At the time, a lot of people articulated concerns about the selection, but one of the overlooked concerns is that he was a college left guard.

In fact, the past three seasons in college don’t feature a single snap at RG. He had 411 LG snaps in 2019, 724 LG snaps in 2020, and 806 LG snaps in 2021. He didn’t line up anywhere else. In other words, playing along the right side as a rookie represented the first time he did so in at least three seasons. Welcome to the NFL, indeed.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. © Bill Ingram / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Though it may sound minor, flipping sides isn’t. The footwork is different. Ask any offensive lineman how important one’s stance and footwork are and you’ll invariably get a response that underscores how vital they are. Building experience and comfort from the right side can only do good things. At this stage, we simply need to wait to see how much better he’ll get. Expectations are high for a guard who gets picked in the 2nd round.

Presumably, Kirk Cousins will welcome having a few less grass stains on his jersey.

Plenty of Vikings fans would have been thrilled to see Kwesi Adofo-Mensah more aggressively add talent in free agency. The young executive preferred restraint, though, instead opting for more subtle tweaks and additions. The GM is relying on internal growth – especially from the young fellas – to keep Minnesota in a nice spot in 2023.

Ed Ingram begins his season with a matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A true test, Ingram will need to corral Vita Vea, so fans will get to see what kind of progress the sophomore has made as early as Week 1.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and PFF helped with this piece.