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2021 first-round pick Christian Darrisaw drawing rave reviews during Minnesota Vikings camp

Christian Darrisaw

While he’s no longer in town, or employed by any NFL team at the moment, former Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman had a strong feel for the NFL Draft. In 2021 when the team was in desperate need of improving the offensive line, Spielman managed to trade down, before masterfully landing left tackle Christian Darrisaw with the 23rd pick in the draft.

Everyone would have been thrilled to land Darrisaw with their original selection, which would have been the 13th pick, but Spielman traded down, which also allowed the team to add Kellen Mond and Wyatt Davis as well as Darrisaw. While the jury is still out on Mond and Davis, Darrisaw is rounding into form in his second season.

Related: Minnesota Vikings: Projecting the 53-man roster in 2022

Christian Darrisaw delivering the goods

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

While Christian Darrisaw’s career didn’t start out with a bang since he missed his first four games with a groin injury, and later missed two more with an ankle injury, overall the left tackle had a strong first season. Playing 652 offensive snaps, Darrisaw committed three penalties, and allowed five sacks in 12 games, according to Pro Football Focus.

Christian Darrisaw PFF gradesPass block gradeRun block gradeOverall PFF grade
2021 (Rookie season)63.177.371.9
Rank among tackles with 50% snaps played39th12th26th
Stats provided by Pro Football Focus

While Darrisaw had solid numbers for a rookie who had to come in and out of the lineup to various injuries, we know the 23-year-old is capable of much more.

Now the rest of the NFL is starting to learn more about what Darrisaw is capable of and just how high his ceiling might stretch.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had a chance to witness the growth and development of Darrisaw first-hand when visiting Vikings training camp on August 7. The reports about Kirk Cousins‘ blindside protector were overwhelmingly positive.

“They think [Darrisaw] is going to be really, really good. It seems to me, based on the people I’ve spoken with, he’s already exceeded the expectations of those who’re already on the staff. The comparison I get here — no one is saying that Darrisaw is him right now — but Trent Williams,”

Ian Rapoport on Christian Darrisaw

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That’s high praise. Trent Williams could very well be on his way to being a future Hall of Fame left tackle. As Rapoport cautions, no one is quite saying Darrisaw is on that level yet, but the comparison alone is impressive. It says something that he’s even being mentioned along the same lines of a nine-time Pro Bowl player.

After all, we don’t hear anyone saying anything similar about former first-round pick Garrett Bradbury, who was taken even higher than Darrisaw in his respective draft, becoming the 18th overall pick. Bradbury has had his fair share of struggles and could be on the verge of losing his starting gig altogether.

That couldn’t be further from the case for Darrisaw. It’s an exciting development for those with high expectations out of the ones dressed in purple. For many Vikings fans, with all the struggles up front in the trenches during the Spielman/Mike Zimmer era with Cousins, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Yet even the biggest naysayers can’t deny Darrisaw is looking like a solid pick and a potential fixture on the left side. That doesn’t mean we should expect Darrisaw to mimic Williams’ play any time soon, but it would help soften the blow from Bradbury being a potential bust.

You can count Pro Bowl pass rusher Danielle Hunter as another big believer in Darrisaw turning his upside into production.

“He took a big leap from year 1 to year 2. He’s not the same player he was last year. The potential is limitless.”

Danielle Hunter on Christian Darrisaw

Darrisaw developing into a Pro Bowl talent just might help the Vikings go from having one of the worst lines in recent time, to having a chance at having one of the best. If they get a top-15 performance out of the trenches, why can’t the playoffs be in sight for Kevin O’Connell’s first year at the helm?

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