Bleacher Report Has Lofty First-Year Prediction for Christian Darrisaw
Two Minnesota Vikings rookies have started all 16 games at left tackle during the last 25 years — Matt Kalil and Todd Steussie.
Kalil was wonderful for one season with the Vikings (2012) before his career careened onto an awkward path, ending in retirement at age 28. On the other hand, Steussie played 111 total games for Minnesota, securing Pro Bowl nods in 1997 and 1998 and then posting a very respectable season in 2000.
If Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report is correct, rookie Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech will make it three left tackles to start a full season during the first year of duty. Moton authored an analysis projecting first-year output on all 32 picks from the 1st Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He pegs Darrisaw as an immediate full-time starter that will start in Week 1 for Minnesota — and play all 17 games. He wrote:
“The Minnesota Vikings released Riley Reiff, so they had to fill a hole at left tackle—a position Christian Darrisaw played for most of three terms at Virginia Tech. Darrisaw is the front-runner to man quarterback Kirk Cousins’ blind side. Last season, the coaching staff converted Ezra Cleveland into a guard after he played left tackle for most of his career at Boise State. At 6’5″, 322 pounds, Darrisaw looks like a brick house with long limbs (34 ¼-inch arms). He can match up with bull-rushers and drive speedy pass-rushers into the ground. On top of that, he moves well on his feet, so he can reach an area, clear the running lane and then move into the second level to expand holes in the opposing team’s defense. You can confidently pen Darrisaw into a starting position for the upcoming season. He fits a top roster need and has the experience and the NFL body to play right away.“
During the last 10 seasons, the Vikings actually rank as the NFL’s 10th-best team in terms of sacks allowed (172 sacks allowed since 2016), but head coach Mike Zimmer’s team opprobriously opens the flood gates (in a bad way) for pressure on various passers like Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, and Kirk Cousins. Therefore, Darrisaw’s instant success is seemingly required to curtail stats such as this:
This metric is especially revealing because the one season that Minnesota was not-terrible via pass protection was 2017. Voila — Zimmer’s Vikings reached the NFC Championship. If Darrisaw is able to usher in a new era of respectability upfront with Wyatt Davis, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, and Brian O’Neill, it will be the first campaign since Kirk Cousins joined the franchise that the pass protection is not flimsy.
Darrisaw did not allow a sack or QB hit in 2020 at Virginia Tech.
He has the opportunity to become the Vikings most consistent left tackle since Bryant McKinnie — a mastodon of a human that was drafted 19 years ago. McKinnie departed for the Baltimore Ravens in 2011, a city where he would win a Super Bowl a season later.
Life after McKinnie has been topsy-turvy for Minnesota at left tackle. Players like the aforementioned Kalil, Charlie Johnson, and Riley Reiff have taken a crack at the left edge of the offensive line — in varying degrees of success.
Should Darrisaw live up to Moton’s words, well, the offesnive trenches could finally stabilize.