Ever since the Minnesota Vikings paid big money to secure the services of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the chatter regarding the Vikings offensive line has been endless, year after year. Spending all that money for a pocket passer and failing to provide adequate protection seemed nonsensical.
However, with fresh eyes in Minnesota in the form of new head coach Kevin O’Connell, new offensive coordinator Wes Phillips, and new offensive line coach Chris Kuper, the hope was that things would change in this regard. And the results just five weeks into the season have been staggering.
Vikings Offensive Line Ranking
In recent seasons, when looking for the Vikings in an offensive line rankings list, you’d have been best served to start from the bottom. That is not the case with Pro Football Network’s newly published Week 6 NFL OL power rankings, where the Vikings take their place in Tier 2 (out of 4).
PFN divides the 32 NFL teams into four tiers. The Vikings fall short of Tier 1, which comprises only the best of the best. Just five teams make it: the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and Detroit Lions. The Vikings have some way to go before they catch up with these units.
A place in Tier 2 sees the Vikings rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, and Denver Broncos.
It’s a big step in the right direction for the Vikings, which can largely be attributed to Christian Darrisaw starting to look like a top-level left tackle in his second season — as well as a considerable improvement by Garrett Bradbury at center, Brian O’Neill remains an excellent right tackle, and Ezra Cleveland, who remains serviceable at left guard.
The weak point, for now, is at right guard, where rookie Ed Ingram is going through the growing pains expected from a rookie. Ingram has performed well in run blocking but needs to see improvement when it comes to pass protection. He has time on his side.
The impressive thing about the Vikings offensive line is that Minnesota drafted all five starting players. Darrisaw and Bradbury were first-round picks, while O’Neill, Cleveland, and Ingram were selected in the second round. One per year, dating back to 2018, when O’Neill started the ball rolling.
The five players are aged between 23 and 27, giving them the possibility of manning the trenches for years to come. It’s taken time to come to fruition, but the policy to draft linemen is working — an exciting prospect when the results have been as promising as they have been. Who knows, with continued improvement, maybe they one day break into Tier 1, taking their place amongst the elite units in the league at this position. That would be the dream.