The Vikings already have a few stars on their roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Justin Jefferson is on a historical pace to start his pro football career. His 3,016 receiving yards are the most of any player in his first two seasons and the most of all players before turning 23. He also has more receiving yards than anyone else since his name was called on draft day.
Also, Dalvin Cook is a star in the league, as he went to the Pro Bowl in three straight years. Cook scored 35 rushing touchdowns in those three seasons and recorded 3851 rushing yards. He only trails Derrick Henry in those two categories. Twenty-three more yards would make him the player who gained the most scrimmage yards since 2019.
Gary Davenport from Bleacher Report named one player at each position who will explode into stardom, and one Viking made the list.
After T.J. Clemmings did a poor job in 2016 blocking for quarterback Sam Bradford, the Vikings signed the left tackle Riley Reiff. His tenure with the franchise was mixed, but overall he was a solid player. After a decade of disastrous offensive line play, all Vikings fans want is solid.
However, they might have landed a future superstar in the 2021 draft. Rick Spielman traded down with the Jets and selected Christian Darrisaw at position 23, a player that would’ve been worth selecting at the original spot, 14.
The 6’5″, 322-pounder fell outside the top 20 in last year’s draft, landing with the Minnesota Vikings at No. 23 overall. In his scouting report for Darrisaw, Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn lauded his potential—while maintaining that it may take time to realize it:
“He needs to be more consistent at bringing his feet and hips at the point of attack in the run game and could play with better focus on every play. Darrisaw’s physical tools and skill set are ready to make an impact right away at tackle, while his effort will need to be more consistent to fulfill his considerably high ceiling.”
– Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report, about Christian Darrisaw
Sure, Darrisaw wasn’t a finished product when he was drafted. But after overcoming his injuries, he was instantly a massive upgrade over Rashod Hill. He had a bad play mixed in every now and then but overall played a phenomenal rookie campaign.
To record a 71 PFF grade as a rookie, despite missing all offseason workouts, the preseason, and the start of the regular season, is an impressive feat. Especially in the run blocking part, he was dominant. His PFF run-blocking grade of 77.3 ranked him 15th among NFL offensive tackles. However, his pass protection can be improved, as his 63.1 grade ranked him below average.
The Future Star Wants to Be Better
The left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings already stated his goal for the upcoming season: he wants to go to the Pro Bowl in his second season. A lofty goal, he already said that he works hard, and the full offseason helps him to get ready.
“I’m trying to improve in the pass game and the rush game and just watching film from last year and taking away those things that I didn’t do well. Just like staying square on my pass sets and just like playing one play at a time. I kind of got frustrated sometimes last year when I had a bad play or whatever, so I’m just like throwing all that stuff out and taking one play at a time, attacking it.”
Working against Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith in the practices only helps his development. Bleacher Report’s Davenport knows rookies can struggle, but he has seen enough flashes.
“It’s hardly unusual for even the best tackle prospects to struggle to acclimate to the NFL. With a year’s experience under his belt and talent and athleticism to burn, Darrisaw is a prime candidate to improve markedly in his second season.”
– Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report
The sky is the limit for the young Vikings player, and he could even explode into stardom in 2022. His development is a huge part of finally fixing Minnesota’s offensive line after a decade of struggling. With Darrisaw and O’Neill, the franchise already found the starting tackles for years to come.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt