Vikings Reveal Questionable Starting Offensive Line Ahead of 2021 Season

Dakota Dozier

Courtesy of Vikings Dakota Dozier is currently ahead of third-round pick Wyatt Davis in the team's first week of practice.

Minnesota Vikings rookie offensive linemen Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis will have to earn their stars this offseason.

Projected as the starting left tackle and right guard, Darrisaw and Davis were not among the starting unit during OTAs this week.

Instead, it appears the Vikings are starting the offseason with the following arrangement, Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson reported:

LT: Rashod Hill
LG: Ezra Cleveland
C: Garrett Bradbury
RG: Dakota Dozier
RT: Brian O’Neill

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Vikings Yet to Speak on Offensive Line

The prospective starting five offensive linemen of OTAs was assembled piecemeal by video the Vikings’ social media posted.

Reporters are not allowed at OTA practices until Wednesday, leaving Tomasson’s initial report to be verified by a series of Sherlock Holmsien observations by KFAN’s AJ Mansour.

Reporters are allowed at practice starting Wednesday, when Tomasson could ask about the decision surrounding the current first-unit offensive line.

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Ring the Alarm?

Yes, Dakota Dozier’s presence on the first unit is alarming.

After Dru Samia, ranked as the worst offensive lineman while starting last season by Pro Football Focus, was placed on injured reserve last season, Dozier became the target of opposing pass rushes and finished as 122nd out of 133-graded guards last season by PFF. Meanwhile, Rashod Hill has been tabbed as the team’s backup tackle and has started just two games in the past two seasons for the Vikings.

As eager as fans are for the 2021 season, it’s too early to make any claim about the Vikings offensive line.

The decision to keep Darrisaw and Davis out of the starting lineups could be a measure to showing the rookies what the team is looking for in walkthroughs.

But on the same coin, early, non-contact practices seem like an opportune time to get the rookies assimilated with the anchors of the line in Brian O’Neill, Garrett Bradbury and Ezra Cleveland.


PFF Projects Vikings Starting Lineups

PFF projected all 32 teams starting lineups a week ago and slated both Darrisaw and Davis to take over as Day 1 starters in 2021.

Minnesota spent valuable draft capital on both Darrisaw, selected 24th overall, and Davis, selected No. 84 overall, and intend to get both linemen involved early in their careers.

Coach Mike Zimmer was not ready to appoint Darrisaw as the team’s starting left tackle of the next 10 years after the press conference but was willing to offer some praise.

“He’ll be at left tackle. But he’s got to come in and compete and win the job just like everyone else. We’ll be able to keep O’Neill at right and go from there,” Zimmer said. “He’s got really good strength. He’s a good kid. He’s a hard worker and really athletic.”

The Vikings have had a penchant over the years of drafting smaller, nimble linemen that can operate in the zone-running scheme.

This offseason, Minnesota opted to get bigger up front.

Davis, who was projected as a first-round prospect last fall before playing through injury in his senior season hurt his draft stock, comes into camp as the third-heaviest offensive lineman on the roster, while Darrisaw is the second-heaviest.

“There was pretty much a directive from Zim, going into scouting this fall and throughout the season, ‘Let’s get bigger up front,'” Vikings scouting director Jamaal Stephenson said on the second night of the draft, via the Star Tribune. “That was the directive, and we went out, and Wyatt Davis definitely fits that mold. He’s a big man, he’s long. He can play guard, potentially tackle.”

 


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