The Minnesota Vikings are stacking the offensive line approaching training camp to turn around the 29th-ranked pass-blocking unit of the 2020 season.
Former Buffalo Bulls offensive tackle Evin Ksiezarczyk tweeted that he is headed to Minnesota for rookie minicamp. Currently unsigned, Ksiezarczyk enters camp as a tryout.
The Vikings have a rich and recent history of rookie minicamp tryouts turning into prolific stars on the team, including Adam Thielen, CJ Ham and Marcus Sherels.
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Undrafted out of the 2020 NFL Draft, Ksierzarcyk was signed by the Atlanta Falcons before becoming a training-camp cut.
Ksierzarczyk was first-team all Mid-American Conference in his senior year when the Bulls rushed for a school-record 3,256 yards and allowed a program-low eight sacks.
He allowed 16 pressures and one sack across 302 pass-blocking snaps. Against Penn State, ranked 10th in the nation, Kiserzarczyk did not give up a sack to future Carolina Panthers second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos.
Ksierzarczyk’s 33.1-inch arms likely won’t make him a candidate at offensive tackle in the NFL, however, he could make for the serviceable guard who’s shown flashes of elite speed in getting the first- and second-level.
Vikings Offensive Line Picture
Trading back from No. 14 in the NFL Draft left even the Vikings’ front office worried their guy wouldn’t fall to them with the No. 23 pick received from the New York Jets. To their fortune, Christian Darrisaw, who was the No. 14-ranked consensus player in the draft, slid to them, allowing Minnesota to pick up two third-round picks and still get their guy.
“We were a little tight in the draft room,” Spielman said of the front office while waiting for other picks to be announced, via Vikings.com. “Once we got down to about four or five picks, when we went down to 23, we did try to go back up because we wanted to try to make sure that we got Christian. We were unable to [move up]. Fortunately, we did not have to. We were able to keep our extra picks that we gained and still got the player that we coveted. So, it worked out very well for us.”
Those picks — No. 66 and No. 86 — allowed the Vikings to select Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, a projected first-round pick in 2020 but struggled in his senior season, playing through an injury.
Davis and Darrisaw are considered instant starters on the offensive line, filling the voids at right guard and left tackle, respectively. Ezra Cleveland, drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, maintains his spot at left tackle alongside 2019 first-round pick Garrett Bradbury, who enters a pivotal third year with the franchise. Right tackle Brian O’Neil, drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft, is likely due for a contract extension this offseason as the starting lineup’s elder statesman.
Rashod Hill, re-signed this offseason, remains the team’s backup swing tackle. Kyle Hinton, drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, is poised to take a step forward and compete for a spot on the 53-man roster along with 2020 sixth-rounder Blake Brandel.
The Vikings also signed former Arizona Cardinals interior lineman Mason Cole to a one-year contract. Zack Bailey joined Minnesota midseason in 2020 after spending two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Oli Udoh remains in the Vikings’ ranks after being drafted in the sixth round f the 2019 draft.
Dru Samia and Dakota Dozier are likely buried beneath the younger prospects after neither 2020 starting guard proved their worth last season as two of the league’s worst-graded guards by Pro Football Focus.