Pre-Free Agency Vikings Roster Evaluation: The Vikings’ Offensive Line Needs Meticulous Attention This Offseason

Vikings LT Christian Darrisaw
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Free agency across the NFL officially gets started on Wednesday, March 13th.

Over the 11 days before free agency, we’ll be taking a bit of a deep dive into the Vikings roster to evaluate where each position group stands before the team can officially begin signing players on the open market. These evaluations will be broken up into the following topics:

The series continues today with arguably the thinnest position on the Vikings offense: the offensive line.

Current Vikings Offensive Linemen

Vikings Roster
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) against Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As things currently stand in Minnesota, the Vikings have some serious work to do in regard to their offensive line. Their group currently consists of just seven players across the board, and they don’t have a starting left guard in place.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Minnesota’s offensive line isn’t star-studded. Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill combine to form one of the best offensive tackle duos in the league. Darrisaw, Minnesota’s 2021 first-round pick, has developed into a premier talent at left tackle after struggling through some injuries during his rookie season. Even still, he has missed multiple games in each of his first three seasons, meaning the Vikings must have a steady backup plan in place in case that were to happen again in 2024.

O’Neill was selected by Minnesota in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and after a couple shaky seasons to begin his career, he too has turned into a stellar talent at right tackle. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2021, and after suffering a partial Achilles tear at the end of the 2022 season, he bounced back nicely in 2023.

Garrett Bradbury and Ed Ingram make up the other two solidified starting spots on the o-line. Both were also Vikings draft picks (Bradbury a first rounder in 2019, Ingram a second rounder in 2022) and have seen their fair share of ups and downs throughout their careers. Ingram, in particular, is going to need a strong third season in order to solidify himself in Minnesota’s long-term plans.

Behind these four, though, things get rather shaky in terms of depth. Henry Byrd, Coy Cronk, and Tyrese Robinson are the only three backups on the roster right now. None of Byrd or Robinson have appeared in a regular season game at the NFL level to this point while Cronk played six offensive snaps for the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2022 season.

Pending Free Agents

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings very well could fill many of their depth issues on the offensive line simply by re-signing their pending free agents. Blake Brandel, David Quessenberry, Chris Reed, Dalton Risner, Austin Schlottmann, and Oli Udoh are all set to hit the open market this offseason.

Brandel makes the most sense as a return candidate simply because of his status as a restricted free agent. The Vikings will have an opportunity to match any offer that Brandel receives on the open market in order to retain him.

The veteran offers terrific versatility on the offensive line. Brandel began his career as an offensive tackle before transitioning to guard in 2023. He’s played snaps at left tackle and right guard over the past two years for Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Risner can continue to serve as the team’s starting left guard if Minnesota opts to re-sign him this spring. He was brought in mid-season during 2023 and started the final 11 games for the Vikings.

Quessenberry also proved to be a capable backup tackle this past season, starting four games for the Vikings in relief of Darrisaw and O’Neill at different points in the year. Schlottmann and Udoh have also been starters for the Vikings at various points over the past few years.

Potential Free Agent Targets

Oct 29, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets guard Laken Tomlinson (78) and offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) walk off the field after defeating the New York Giants in overtime at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings were to look elsewhere to fill some of their offensive line depth this offseason, there are a few players hitting the open market who could help out, particularly at that guard position. In particular, Laken Tomlinson, who was recently released by the New York Jets, has been one of the sturdiest players in the NFL, making 114 consecutive starts at left guard.

While Tomlinson’s stint in New York wasn’t all that great, it’s tough to solely place that blame on him when the rest of the o-line wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain, either.

Here is a look at Tomlinson’s PFF grades during his five-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers from 2017-2021:

  • 2017: 66.4
  • 2018: 67.5
  • 2019: 68.8
  • 2020: 78.8
  • 2021: 73.6

Tomlinson has proven to be a very capable offensive lineman at the NFL level, so perhaps a departure from New York was exactly what he needed to get back to that level. The Vikings should have the veteran on their radar this spring.

Day 3 Could Be a Prime Spot for Interior Offensive Linemen

Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas State offensive lineman Cooper Beebe (OL07) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the offensive line focus in this draft has gone towards the offensive tackles, which is valid considering the amount of talent at that position this year. However, there are plenty of interior offensive linemen who could be available later on in the draft as a result, and the Vikings could pounce if they want to fill their depth with younger players.

Cooper Beebe out of Kansas State immediately comes to mind as an option. The Wildcats product has played snaps at left tackle, left guard, right guard, and right tackle throughout his career. However, his 6’4″ frame certainly suggests that he will play more on the interior in the NFL as he did during his final two collegiate seasons.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of 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.