Vikings Get Dream OL Scenario in PFF Lineup Projection

Wyatt Davis / Jake Browning
May 26, 2021; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jake Browning (3) and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis (51) in drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

One team has selected an offensive lineman in each of the last four NFL drafts inside the 2nd Round or higher.

That is the Minnesota Vikings.

For [what feels like] a full decade, the Vikings have underwhelmed upfront in the trenches, causing a litany of quarterbacks from Matt Cassel to Kirk Cousins to end up on the turf as a result of subpar pass protection. Because the organization has employed Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook as its last two keynote running backs, the run-blocking never seems too bad, all things considered. Yet, such is not the case for preventing pocket pressure from defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers.

The team signed Riley Reiff and Mike Zimmer before the 2017 campaign, allotting money to the problem via free agency. Reiff worked out fairly well. Remmers did not. From that offseason on, general manager Rick Spielman began stockpiling offensive trenchmen from the draft – Brian O’Neill (2018), Garrett Bradbury (2019), Ezra Cleveland (2020), Christian Darrisaw (2021), and Wyatt Davis (2021).

On paper, the offensive line is set – finally.

But the group has to coagulate. And that’s a big deal. So far in training camp, Wyatt Davis hasn’t been offered too much time with the starting offensive lineup, peeving onlookers with “what’s the deal on Davis?” question marks. Men like Dakota Dozier, Dru Samia, and Oli Udoh are getting the snaps through one week of training camp.

But if Pro Football Focus is accurate, Minnesota’s offensive line will be outfitted with the youth movement this September. PFF projected starting lineups for all NFL teams on Monday, and here’s what Ben Linsey has in mind for the Vikings:

Boom. That’s the fivesome Spielman drafted throughout the last four drafts, absent of any “makeshift” lineups akin to Nick Easton, Pat Elflien, Dakota Dozier, or Dru Samia of yesteryear. This brand of Vikings, led by Mike Zimmer, is oft-scrutinized for “square peg round hole” dealings regarding the offensive line. Darrisaw-Cleveland-Bradbury-Davis-O’Neill would be the opposite of a piecemealed plan. Why? Because Spielman organically drafted the men with high draft capital and the vision aforethought to pair them together. It’s finally time.

However, Davis will soon necessitate an emergence for this grand plan to actionize. Zimmer announced last week that the right guard spot is totally up for grabs, so Davis actually has to tear it away from Dozier, Samia, and Udoh. Stealing the gig away from Dozier or Samia should, in theory, be elementary as those men struggled mightily in 2020. Udoh is a wildcard. He enters Year Three this season – a pivotal campaign for his young career. His claim-to-fame is stifling Khalil Mack in Week 17 of the 2019 season. Minnesota rested nearly all of its starters, leaving Udoh to deal with Mack. Somehow, it worked.

Darrisaw is hampered by an injury at the moment, but the Vikings insist it is not serious. He’ll join the 89 others at camp soon. Darrisaw is a 1st-Round pick, and the notion of his immediate LT1 assignment is more reasonable than Davis, a 3rd-Rounder, scaling the depth chart this summer.

Davis is the one to watch. Some reports indicate he looks aggressive in camp. So why isn’t he interwoven with the first team? Perhaps he’ll have to win the RG1 duty in preseason games, which commence in 12 days.

Unrelated to the offensive line, Linsey left Bashaud Breeland out of the starting cornerback lineup. That is not overtly crazy, but Breeland starts everywhere he goes – from Washington, Green Bay, to winning a Super Bowl with Kansas City. He likely expects to start.

RG1 and CB2-CB3 are the most interesting storylines to keep eyes on in Week 2 of training camp – once the COVID vaccination stuff blows over.