Quiet and Workmanlike, The Vikings’ O-Line Depth Piece is Making a Case for an Extension

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Very seldom does one get the chance to see David Quessenberry in front of a microphone. He did, however, address the media after the Falcons win. “I’m pretty sore,” Quessenberry notes, “but it’s a good sore. I love playing, I love waking up feeling that soreness. I played some football yesterday.”

He’ll remind some of Riley Reiff since both are bearded offensive tackles who come across as being fairly reserved.

The position — the offensive line — often lends itself to players who are more content with avoiding the spotlight, which can certainly be true of the Vikings’ o-line. Not often do the big fellas get to bring the football across the goal line, instead doing their best work when they’re withstanding the assaults from the NFL’s vast army of elite pass rushers. The best case for a lot of the linemen rests in revelling in the simple joy of yeeting slamming a football into the turf after one of the skilled guys brings it into the endzone.

Nov 1, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland (72) after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing Quessenberry a bit overlooked is thus unsurprising.

The 33-year-old has been a backup swing tackle for the Vikings in 2023. And, we shouldn’t forget, Quessenberry wasn’t even the main man for the job, at least not initially. Oli Udoh was going to hold onto that job, but an injury to Udoh shifted things over to Quessenberry.

Lately, he has been needed to function as the fill-in at right tackle. Brian O’Neill is a tough man to replace, but David Quessenberry has been doing a nice job, leaving one to wonder if the veteran will find a way of sticking around beyond just the current season.

Vikings’ O-Line Depth Player Making a Case for An Extension

David Quessenberry got into the NFL in 2013 and has mostly functioned as a depth piece since then. In fact, he has very commonly hung around on the practice squad.

The first time he started was in 2020. Lasting in the NFL from 2013 to 2020 without picking up a start means that Quessenberry is someone who is willing to hustle and grind.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) against Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, we shouldn’t forget a major portion of the tackle’s story: in 2014, David Quessenberry was diagnosed with cancer.

ESPN offers a piece with a lot of the details: “It was the summer of 2014, and the then second-year Houston Texans offensive lineman was experiencing fatigue, a persistent cough and a feeling he was going to black out during OTAs. A biopsy revealed that Quessenberry had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

One of the prevailing ideas to come out of Quessenberry’s quotes was (and, presumably, still is) his desire to be an excellent teammate: “I’ll lay down for the team and do my job. That’s all I’ve ever asked is for the team to give me a look. Give me a shot, and I’ll do the rest.”

Quessenberry’s dad, David Sr., relayed a similar thought about his son’s desire: “He wants to be a consistent, true member of a 53-man roster. He doesn’t mind being a representative as a cancer survivor, but he wants to be known as a football player too. He’s willing to take the things on that come with being a high-profile cancer survivor, but he wants to finish the dream of being a football player in the NFL.”

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Oct 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive tackle David Quessenberry (77) and center Mitch Morse (60) on the line of scrimmage against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The o-lineman’s desire to make it in the NFL has led to employment in Houston, Tennessee, Buffalo, and now Minnesota. Since 2020, Quessenberry has been able to pick up 29 starts (going 17/17 on games with the Titans in 2021).

As a Viking, Quessenberry finds himself at a trio of starts. PFF gives him a very nice 73.5 pass blocking grade while suggesting that he’s responsible for allowing 1 sack, 2 QB hits, and 13 pressures. Keep in mind that his playing time has come against the Eagles’ loaded defensive line, some sneaky talent in Atlanta, Maxx Crosby’s Raiders, Trey Hendrickson’s Bengals, and Aidan Hutchinson’s Lions.

Nov 24, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) runs on to the field during player introductions before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, O’Neill is working through a week of practice on the injury report as he comes back from his ankle injury. Once again, Quessenberry may be needed to pick up a start.

The offensive lineman is certainly resilient, overcoming cancer while then navigating life as an NFL journeyman. He has been showing off that resilience with the Vikings in 2023, getting tossed into the fire on various occasions and performing admirably while doing so.

His cap charge in 2023 comes in a bit beyond $1 million, so he has been a bargain. The Vikings will be carrying some great OL continuity into 2024 since four of their starters — Christian Darrisaw, Garrett Bradbury, Ed Ingram, and Brian O’Neill — are all scheduled to come back. Will that continuity extend into the depth? A strong swing tackle can sometimes be the difference between an offense that’s able to keep functioning and one that majorly struggles to get into a rhythm in the passing game.

The 6’5″, 306-pound offensive lineman was a 6th-round selection in 2013. His brothers, Scott and Paul, have also played in the NFL. Look for the Vikings to consider bringing him back in 2024.

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

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.