Vikings’ Final Call on Starter’s Future Turns Heads After Dalton Risner Signing

Dalton Risner

Getty Dalton Risner on September 12, 2022 in Seattle.

The Vikings’ signing of Dalton Risner after two weeks was an all-in move to salvage the season after an 0-2 start.

But it also may spell the end of guard Ed Ingram‘s career as a starter in the NFL.

Wide Left’s Arif Hasan, formerly with The Athletic, weighed the implications of the signing, which remain in the air until Risner suits up on Sunday against the Chargers.

“There aren’t many cases of a rookie offensive lineman starting their first year in the NFL, benched in their second year and then becoming a starter again later in their career. If this is what the Vikings are doing, they might as well be giving up on Ingram long-term, even if they say otherwise,” Hasan wrote.

Considering the Vikings had Risner in the building for a visit during training camp, This week’s decision to sign him and potentially replace Ingram could come with some scrutiny.

“If that’s the case, then the Vikings’ decision to let Risner walk out of the building during training camp despite thinking of him as a starting-quality offensive lineman is a bizarre one. Surely Ingram could have used the competition. It may be the case that Risner’s asking price was too high then and dropped after that, but it’s not as if they lost his phone number between then and now,” Hasan added.

Risner, 28, agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal on September 18, making him the highest-paid guard on the Vikings roster. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert said he doubts the Vikings would pay him that much to be a backup.

Dalton Risner Could Fill Several Spots on Vikings O-Line

Dalton Risner, Broncos

GettyOffensive tackle Dalton Risner, formerly of the Denver Broncos.

While the calls for Risner to replace one of the starting guards — Ezra Cleveland or Ingram — Risner could also be considered for several other positions.

Center Garrett Bradbury is dealing with a back injury after he missed five games last season with a similar injury. Austin Schlottmann has filled in admirably for Bradbury, but that spot on the interior could also use improvement.

Risner also played right tackle in college and could back up the spot.

However, Kevin O’Connell revealed that he asked Risner if he could play the right guard spot after four seasons on the left side with the Broncos — a signal that the Vikings have considered a shakeup at right guard.

“His predominant history is on that left side, that’s one of the reasons why you bring a player on a visit, to have those conversations,” O’Connell said, referring to asking Risner about his comfort in playing the right guard spot. “We feel very comfortable about his answer to that question and would put that plan into place as far as his competition to try and earn a significant role on our team.”

Risner finished last season tied for ninth in run-block win rate (74%) among guards, according to ESPN. Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best guard available when free agency opened in March and the 46th-best player overall. His prowess is his pass-blocking, but he’s an all-around improvement over Ingram.

“Risner offered consistency along a Broncos offensive line that had anything but at every other position, logging almost 1,000 snaps before unfortunately missing the season finale with an elbow injury,” his free-agent profile on PFF reads. “Before going down, Risner earned his second consecutive pass-blocking grade above 70.0, with a 65.7 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets that ranked 22nd among guards. It’s a great time for Risner to hit free agency, with a short list of quality interior offensive linemen available. Risner is right at the top of that list.”

Vikings 2022 Draft Class Looking Like a Bust

Ed Ingram

GettyVikings guard Ed Ingram surrendered the most pressures of any lineman in the NFL last season.

In light of the potential for Ingram to lose his starting spot, the 2022 draft class has not lived up to expectations as Year 2 is underway.

Adofo-Mensah’s trading away the 12th overall pick to the Lions fielded safety Lewis Cine (first round, No. 32 overall), cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (second round, No. 42) and Ingram (second round, No. 59) — all of whom have not taken a step forward this season.

Cornerback Akayleb Evans (fourth round, No. 118) is the only member of the 10-man draft class that is starting this season. Brian Asamoah (third round, No. 66) was poised to start this season but had his role overtaken by 2023 undrafted rookie Ivan Pace Jr.

Running back Ty Chandler (fifth round, No. 169), wide receiver Jalen Nailor (No. 191) and tight end Nick Muse (seventh round, No. 227) have all shown flashes of potential as developmental pieces.

Defensive lineman Esezi Otomowo (fifth round, No. 165) was released in August and signed to the Jaguars practice squad.

Tackle Vederian Lowe (sixth round, No. 184) was traded to the Patriots in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick. He started at left tackle against the Dolphins on Sunday.

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