It’s that time of year again. Draft season! I discussed in my earlier article (Assessing Who Should Be The Minnesota Vikings 2019 First Round Draft Pick) three positions and players the Vikings could target. They own the 18th overall pick which leaves them with countless options. The most obvious need is offensive lineman. This class is littered with value at that position. I discussed one lineman Vikings fans should be aware of. Now, I’ll discuss another one.
I think anyone that watched a Vikings game this year or that paid any attention to the NFL at all know that the Vikings owned one of the most unproductive offensive lines in 2018. They were 27th in pass blocking and 25th in run blocking. They also gave up a league-high 227 pressures. That’s not exactly the formula the Vikings were looking for to protect Kirk Cousins, their $84 million quarterback. They are currently looking for an offensive line coach as well. The formula to evolve into a stout offensive line is consistency. With a new offensive line coach coming in and the Vikings deploying numerous different line combinations last season, their situation has been anything but consistent. The time to change that begins now.
The chances of Dalton Risner landing at 18 to the Vikings seems very likely at the moment. His current draft projection is early on day two. During Risner’s first year at Kansas State, he started 13 games at center. He was awarded First Team Freshman All-America honors. He also helped lead K-State to second-best in the nation in red-zone offense.
In his sophomore year, Risner was moved to right tackle. The transition to tackle was seamless for him. He earned First Team All-Big 12 honors and helped lead the way as they set school records in rushing that year. He also was a First Team All-American his junior year at right tackle. At the end of Risner’s senior year, he was rated by Pro Football Focus as the 16th-best player in the nation.
Risner is as ready to start in the NFL as any lineman in this class and will be a steal at 18. He is a tremendous pass blocker. Minnesota is desperate for solid pass blocking. Cousins was pressured on nearly 40 percent of his drop-backs last season. He has great technique and his strength to take on rushers and double teams is astounding. He’s violent with a good anchor that holds up against just about any rusher. His mobility and lateral quickness give him the ability to be strong in the run game. He works great with his hands and rarely is pushed off his spot.
Risner, as with all rookies, has some faults as well. He stands up well against pass rushers, but it’s the long, more elusive players that can give him fits. Risner also isn’t the most athletic lineman in this draft. He may fit best in the interior of the line rather than in a tackle position because of his athleticism and the adjustment to the NFL.
With the news of the new hire of Gary Kubiak as an offensive advisor, Risner is a perfect pick for Minnesota. With the running scheme and play action Kubiak presents, this will really open up Risner’s skill set and begin the consistency the Vikings are looking for on the offensive line.