Vikings Lose Young, Promising Offensive Lineman to Falcons

Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Kyle Hinton (68) looks on during training camp at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hinton joined the Vikings as a late-round selection in 2020. Since that time, he has been a depth option, someone the team has leaned on to provide the reinforcements up front when necessary. Unfortunately, the Vikings have lost the young OG to the Atlanta Falcons.

Indeed, the team will be moving forward without their depth guard on the roster. The ascending Atlanta Falcons decided to bring Hinton aboard:

Hinton will have a chance to add some reinforcements to the Falcons’ front five. With Desmond Ridder in town, Atlanta is building toward the future. Bringing the young, athletic lineman to town thus makes a lot of sense.

The Vikings Lose Kyle Hinton

At 24, Kyle Hinton is still capable of playing a lot of football.

He is 6’3″ and 310 pounds. Minnesota made him the 253rd selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the penultimate draft with Rick Spielman as the general manager. While several picks didn’t survive the transition to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Hinton showed enough to hang around.

In Week 17, the guard got in on 5 snaps for the special teams. In Week 18, Hinton got the chance to hop in for 34 snaps. Overall, the backup did quite well:

According to Chris Tomasson of The Pioneer Press, Hinton received a $100,000 signing bonus to head over to Atlanta. For a late-round pick at the beginning of his career, that kind of money can be life changing.

Jan 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (4) scrambles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The appeal of potentially getting more playing time while protecting a young, ascending QB has to be part of the motivation, as well. Meanwhile, the Vikings are in win-now mode, largely as a result of their soon-to-be 35-year-old quarterback.

Plus, Ezra Cleveland is firmly entrenched as the team’s starting LG. On the other side is Ed Ingram, a second-round selection from Adofo-Mensah’s first draft. While the RG didn’t have a perfect rookie year, he still started every game. Breaking into the starting 5 in Minnesota would have been difficult for Hinton.

Right now, most of the focus is on Minnesota’s defense. Ed Donatell has been fired and there are a lot of players who could plausibly be cut. While these realities are occupying a lot of our collective attention, it’s worth remembering that the offense does have plenty of room to improve. Providing some better protection for Cousins – especially within the interior offensive line – is a good place to start.

They’ll need to pursue that goal without the help of Hinton. Best of luck to the young lineman.

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