For those of you that read our coverage enough to be rubbing your eyes to ensure that I, Joe “Zimmer is to blame for everything including Global Warming” Johnson, am saying that the Minnesota Vikings are simply an offensive guard away from being an actual contender in the NFC, you’re reading this right. Ironically, that’s why I’ve been so frustrated lo these last few painful seasons. The Vikings have been so obviously and frustratingly close to being an actual contender that each time they spend an off-season not pouring every (or next to any) ounce of effort into solidifying their Achille’s heel, it gets more frustrating.
But haven’t the Vikings spent more top three picks on the O-Line than any team the last couple seasons, you scream at your device? Yes. But they’ve also invested those picks into the wrong people. I’m not talking about the wrong people from a “with the power of hindsight” perspective, but rather that the problem with this Vikings offensive line (and thus team) has been the interior of the line, namely the guards, since the playoffs began in 2017.
The Vikings haven’t drafted guards to play guard, though. Instead they’ve drafted tackles for some odd reason, as tackles obviously require more draft (and from a free agent perspective, actual) capital. So, tonight, the Vikings need to bundle all their non-second round picks to move up into that round to land Ohio State stud guard Wyatt Davis.
If they do so, they’ll have a starting day line of Christian Darrisaw, Wyatt Davis, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, and Brian O’Neill.
While Bradbury is a hair away from being a bust, he’s also essentially been the one decent tooth surrounded by completely rotten remnants of what could barely still be called teeth that is trying to gnaw it’s way into a can of corn. Perhaps with some help next to him the former first-round pick could become something decent. If not? The Vikings have Mason Cole or Brett Jones as contingencies. Same goes for the right guard spot. Ezra Cleveland performed well in the run blocking game, but was nigh atrocious against the pass rush. With a swing like Cole? We’d at least have something to not be utterly depressed about.
Then there’s Brian O’Neill. Who needs no introduction nor explanation.
If the Vikings have THAT unit? Imagine what quarterback Kirk Cousins could do with time. Imagine an offense that has Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, perhaps a good third receiver (if Zimmer’s post Night 1 comments are to believed), and Irv Smith Jr. and more than two seconds for plays to develop?
That’s the sort of offense that can put a team with a good to low-end great offense to a championship. The Vikings’ defenses have always been regular season, small game wonders. They’ve never been the type that gets better when the lights are brightest, nor physical/all encompassing enough to win a championship without an elite offense on the other side of the ball.
Drafting Wyatt Davis not only could do that, but if Darrisaw shows that he has the heart/effort that’d maximize his amazing potential? It should.
Plus, you know if I’m saying it there must be something to it because I’m harder on Zimmer than one of those regular sized editions of Reader’s Digest. “I said I wanted the Zoomed in Version, Damn it!” Zimmer said, in this fantasy narrative.