The Vikings (Finally) Sign IOL Dalton Risner
The Minnesota Vikings have gotten off to a very slow start in 2023, going 0-2 through the first two weeks.
One of the major areas of concern has been the offensive line, especially with Christian Darrisaw working through an ankle injury and Oli Udoh out for the year. With limited depth on the offensive line, the Vikings have finally decided to make their much-anticipated IOL signing, adding free agent Dalton Risner.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the signing on X (formerly Twitter), posting, “The #Vikings are signing FA G Dalton Risner, sources say. The former #Broncos starter — and one of the top free agents available— lends valuable experience to Minnesota’s line.”
According to Mike Klis of 9NEWS in Denver, the deal is for one year and worth a total of $4 million. $2.25 million of that contract is guaranteed.
Vikings Make Their IOL Signing
Risner was a 2019 second-round pick by the Denver Broncos where he spent the entirety of his first four NFL seasons. In all, he started 62 of a possible 66 games, proving to be an extraordinarily healthy player for the Broncos.
The greatest attribute Risner possesses is one that has been rather lackluster among Minnesota’s guards over the past few seasons: pass protection. Over his four seasons in the NFL, Risner has never had 30 allowed pressures in a single season, despite playing over 500 pass-protection snaps every year. In 2022, PFF blamed him for just three sacks over 598 snaps in pass-pro. He was given a pass-blocking grade of 72.6 by the site.
While the 28-year-old has spent the majority of his NFL career playing the left guard position, he has shown that he can play just about everywhere on a football field. Looking back to his collegiate days with the Kansas State Wildcats, Risner got started at center, playing 900 snaps at the position in 2015.
Risner then finished his college years with three starting seasons at right tackle. Per PFF, Risner graded out at 87.9 or higher in each of his four years as a starter.
Risner should immediately be considered a starting candidate in the Vikings offense this season as well. Ed Ingram had massive struggles in pass protection during his rookie season, earning a paltry 42.6 pass-blocking grade from PFF. He had 63 pressures to his name during the season, more than twice the amount from any Risner season in Denver.
Through the first two weeks of the 2023 season, things have not gotten much better for the 2022 second-round pick. Ingram has allowed seven pressures with a PFF grade of 51.4.
An added wrinkle for next offseason is the potential of Ezra Cleveland’s departure in free agency. Cleveland is entering a contract year in 2023. If the Vikings don’t want to fork over big money to retain him, they have a backup plan now.
We also have to keep in mind that Cleveland played at left tackle throughout his collegiate career. Being a 6’6 player, he has the frame to play the position at the NFL level, and perhaps he wants to make the switch back to his natural spot in his next contract.
Overall, the Vikings needed to do something in order to either create competition on the interior offensive line or shake things up entirely. The Risner signing is an attempt to do just that.
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.