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Is Vikings’ tackle Brian O’Neill actually a bust?

Is Vikings next yr tackle Brian O’Neill (correct) following in the footsteps of another Vikings bust, Matt Kalil (remaining)? Kalil image courtesy of AP Picture/Lynne Sladky O’Neill image courtesy of Getty Visuals/Leon Halip
Pro Football Focus

The main Achilles heel of the 2018 Minnesota Vikings crew was unquestionably their offensive line. The absence of steady, superior participate in and cohesion from the line hamstrung the Vikings expertise on offense, introduced down the promising offensive plan remaining set with each other by John DeFilippo, and ruined the Vikings quest for a return to the post-year.

As is organic when just about anything is seriously negative, lovers and coaches glance for glimmers of hope and the ‘diamonds in the rough’ that can be salvaged from the disaster. This is definitely the circumstance with the Vikings offensive line. Supporters and coaches have taken ease and comfort in the continued strong participate in of remaining tackle Riley Reiff, centers Pat Elflein and Brett Jones and even backup guard Danny Isidora and the hope that these four may well be ready to sort a nucleus in the forthcoming year about which the new items on the offensive line may well be added to sort a greater line in 2019. Nevertheless just one participant who has often been described as just one of these glimmers of hope on the line may perhaps be, in reality, turning into practically nothing but fool’s gold. This is the young correct tackle Brian O’Neill.

Pre-Draft Considerations & Spielman’s Attain

Looking at the pre-draft analyses of Brian O’Neill, it is crystal clear that there were some main concerns about him heading into the draft. To commence with, he experienced only played the offensive tackle spot for 3 many years and hadn’t seriously stood out at the situation. His energy and weight concentrations were not what groups would normally like to see in an offensive lineman, which led to concerns that he would be vulnerable to bull hurrying. He also was said to absence the “punch” to participate in offensive line successfully by which it was intended that he lacked the hearth and attacking mentality to maintain up his opponent properly. Throw in that his functionality at Senior Bowl 7 days was horrendous according to experiences, and its crystal clear his problems were no secret to numerous NFL groups.

What propelled him into next working day consideration at the draft was his athletic means. He has selected raw tools which are not often found in an offensive lineman, such as brief feet and speed. As he was previously a limited stop prior to remaining switched to tackle, these abilities were no shock. Nevertheless his raw abilities merged with his major constraints intended he fell into the class of a “project” exactly where he should have been relegated more to the third round or lessen in phrases of remaining picked and should not have been seemed at as beginning content as a rookie in any way, form or sort.

Nevertheless, Spielman did anything which he hadn’t certainly completed considering the fact that the to start with round of the 2011 draft. He manufactured a main arrive at in the next round to draft O’Neill. Why was that? It was basic. Spielman above-reacted to a operate on offensive linemen in the early next round exactly where the 5 remaining superior-top quality potential clients all went incredibly immediately. In working with the to start with round pick on cornerback Mike Hughes, Spielman experienced gambled just one of people 5 offensive linemen would nevertheless be there when the Vikings picked in the next round. He gambled on that… and misplaced.

Spielman, as an alternative of proudly owning up to the negative gamble and sticking with the “best available player” approach with which he has experienced achievement drafting in the past, then manufactured his mistake even worse. He and his draft staff members seemed to worry due to the fact of that operate on linemen, and so limited their concerns to the remaining offensive line potential clients, none of whom were deserving of heading that superior in the draft. He drafted O’Neill at a spot exactly where O’Neill experienced no enterprise remaining drafted at and then turned to a PR campaign to prop up the pick and deal with his mistake. It was another gamble on Spielman’s aspect. A gamble that probably O’Neill would shock everybody and verify himself deserving of Spielman’s faith. Considering Spielman’s luck on reaches in the past on the other hand, it was a long shot.

The worst dilemma you in no way read of

The to start with telling indicator that maybe O’Neill was not what the Vikings experienced hoped for in a tackle came when the formal depth chart opened the year and O’Neill was not just one of the starters. If he was certainly as superior as Vikings coaches came to assert he was afterwards in the year, they would not have hesitated to have him phase in as a starter from the stop of the pre-year. As it stood on the other hand, the Vikings set him on the bench until injuries would power them to set him into video games, and the formal line was that they preferred him to sit and notice for his to start with yr.

O’Neill didn’t continue being on the bench incredibly long prior to injuries compelled him to participate in. In Week 2 from Eco-friendly Bay, correct tackle Rashod Hill went down with an injury and O’Neill was compelled into the recreation. He seemed perplexed nearly the entire recreation, acquiring spun about each which way. Vikings coaches experimented with to give him enable by cheating backs and limited ends his way, but that remaining them vulnerable to blitzes and overloads from the remaining. Only the superhuman functionality from Kirk Cousins saved the crew in the recreation and enabled them to arrive again and tie.

O’Neill returned to the bench until Week 6 from Arizona when an injury to Riley Reiff moved Hill to remaining tackle and set O’Neill in at correct tackle. A recreation which should have been an effortless blowout for the Vikings above such a weak Cardinals crew was manufactured a lot closer by O’Neill’s incredibly sloppy participate in. The most glaring case in point of his poor participate in came on the Cardinals’ defensive landing. O’Neill was immediately bull-rushed by the rusher from the correct and this compelled Cousins to phase up from his deep drop. This modify of situation gave the rusher from the remaining an effortless angle to get past Hill and sack Cousins. The sack compelled the fumble which Cardinals’ basic safety Budda Baker then returned for a landing. Nevertheless numerous attributed obligation for the fumble to Hill, examination of recreation film obviously displays that the obligation for the turnover lay with O’Neill. There were numerous more illustrations of poor participate in all recreation long as O’Neill was often bull-rushed, pushed about and perplexed by the Cardinals’ go rush. Only superhuman participate in on the aspect of Cousins and Adam Thielen bailed him out at details in the recreation and allowed the Vikings to rating adequate details to earn.

Subsequent the 7 days six recreation, the Vikings commenced to often design protections on the line to shore up their correct aspect. Mike Remmers and O’Neill were often set on double-groups with each other. Tight ends or backs were also often lined up in the direction of the correct to shore up defense. In spite of this on the other hand, O’Neill’s participate in was nevertheless incredibly sloppy and his method seemed to worsen as the year went on. A couple of video games in distinct seemed to be superior illustrations of these struggles.

In Week 11 in Chicago, the Vikings were in a dogfight with the Bears and making an attempt to make a comeback to earn. Deep in their personal territory, a go participate in was referred to as and O’Neill got conquer within by the Bears’ Leonard Floyd. This compelled Cousins to get the ball off a lot quicker than he preferred to, and the go was intercepted by the Bears and returned for a landing which primarily sealed all reasonable hopes the Vikings experienced of successful the recreation.

In Week 12 in the next recreation from the Packers, the contrast among the participate in of O’Neill and Rashod Hill was instead staggering. When O’Neill was in the recreation, he saved acquiring perplexed and turned about by Clay Matthews and other Packers defenders. When he grew to become injured and experienced to depart the recreation, Rashod Hill came in and nearly immediately there was an advancement in the participate in of the line. Exactly where Clay Matthews experienced dominated a timid-acting O’Neill, Hill attacked Matthews and, in at minimum just one instance, knocked Matthews on his backside. The enhanced participate in of the line immediately after O’Neill remaining the recreation would stop up remaining a main variable in the Vikings scoring adequate details to conquer Eco-friendly Bay that evening.

In Week 14 in Seattle, the Vikings were down by fourteen and making an attempt to mount some form of comeback. Cousins dropped again to go and was before long less than stress from the ferocious Seattle rush. Rookie defensive stop Jacob Martin of the Seahawks conquer O’Neill’s block relatively quickly and strip-sacked Cousins. The ball was then returned for a landing by Seattle’s Justin Coleman, sealing the Seattle victory.

There were numerous other illustrations all through the year of O’Neill’s poor participate in which resembled the illustrations provided. Nevertheless his struggles mainly flew less than the floor this year many thanks to the superhuman participate in of Kirk Cousins and other people who, in numerous circumstances, reacted immediately and sufficiently adequate to enable the offense triumph over O’Neill’s mistakes. Nevertheless, as Vikings lovers should properly know, luck only retains for so long.

Why O’Neill is becoming a bust

What is the root of Brian O’Neill’s problems? Why is he having difficulties so terribly? The solution may perhaps lie in a worry described in passing in O’Neill’s draft profile.

O’Neill’s primary dilemma is that he does not have the punch or the ‘attacking’ intuition that is inherent in all superior offensive linemen. Relatively than attacking, more often than not, O’Neill reacts to what his opponent is executing, which offers the defensive lineman or blitzer the edge of dictating what will happen in their struggle on the line. When the attacker dictates, the defender will nearly in no way stop up the winner.

The regrettable thing about the intuition remaining the primary dilemma is that it is anything which is formed at the starting of a player’s advancement which would make it nearly extremely hard to modify. When thinking about that O’Neill commenced his job at limited stop it is not hard to see exactly where that regrettable mentality came from. There are two types of receivers, people who struggle for a situation and people who respond to the defensive again and go exactly where the defensive again is not heading. O’Neill obviously was qualified to be the latter and that training has carried above in his offensive line participate in. As a outcome of this, O’Neill’s job as an offensive lineman would seem doomed to not last incredibly long. At minimum not as a member of the beginning 5.

For all the public praise the Vikings coaches and administration have provided O’Neill, their actions appear to be to imply that they have identified this and are simply searching for to hold the young lineman’s self-assurance up in public (a lot the exact same way they did with Christian Ponder during his struggles). For just one thing, if O’Neill was as superior as the coaching staff members was boasting he was, why did he not get the option to swap tackle spots with Hill when Reiff was out with injury? Additionally, in the year finale vs Chicago when the Vikings were making their desperate last gasps to arrive again, why was it Hill and not O’Neill beginning at correct tackle late in the recreation when they required superior go defense? Steps talk louder than terms, and actions like this are crystal clear indicators that the Vikings have main reservations about O’Neill remaining a viable long-phrase solution on the line.

Likely into 2019

So what will the Vikings do at correct tackle heading into 2019? The solution to that may perhaps relaxation on what the Vikings do in the draft. With requirements at each guard and tackle, the Vikings will have choices and Spielman will have to have to harmony the have to have with his draft approach of buying the greatest available participant. Latest news that the Vikings are thinking about the risk of shifting Riley Reiff to guard suggests that they probably fully grasp this, nevertheless it may perhaps also be only draft posturing to make groups uneasy about who the Vikings are thinking about at the offensive line positions.

The greatest technique would probably be to confess the mistake of shifting Mike Remmers to guard and transfer him again to correct tackle. There Remmers could challenge O’Neill to begin when the crew spends draft picks to shore up the guard positions. Nevertheless, if an exceptional expertise falls to the crew who can participate in correct tackle, incorporating him to the situation struggle would be an added reward, heightening the odds of finally solidifying the situation and enabling the Vikings to transfer on from O’Neill more immediately than they may well if not be ready to.

What will happen to O’Neill heading into 2019? The to start with and wisest option would be for Spielman to have him available as a trade chip heading into draft weekend. If the option occurs to transfer up in the draft to take a greater offensive lineman and O’Neill’s presence in the trade would enable convey that outcome about, then Spielman should do that and therefore enable make up for his mistake in losing too superior a draft pick on a developmental participant.

The more probably circumstance on the other hand is that O’Neill goes into 2019 training camp as aspect of a situation struggle at correct tackle. Remmers should get the to start with likelihood to earn again the correct tackle spot. If another draft pick will get added to the mix at correct tackle, then the struggle can become a 3 way competition, pushing everybody to be greater.

If O’Neill is caught in a 3 way competition, he is probably to stop up at the bottom of the depth chart barring a miraculous turnaround in his method and technique. This suggests he will be a primary candidate to be produced in roster cuts. Or, if some crew in have to have of offensive line depth is willing to shell out a reduced level draft pick for him, he could become a primary trade candidate and so enable the crew recoup a draft alternative or two.

If the competition is limited to among Remmers and O’Neill, then O’Neill will probably continue being on the roster for the time remaining, but will be relegated to the job held by gamers like Aviante Collins and Austin Shepherd the last couple of seasons. Particularly that of the sixth lineman in operate-hefty formations. His speed, brief feet and athleticism would essentially become an asset for him there. Only appearing in the offense on people operate-hefty performs would help him to concentration solely on blocking downhill (a significantly simpler task for a lineman) and his speed would help him to arrive at the more rapidly-shifting smaller sized defenders at linebacker and in the secondary, therefore enabling the runner to get past the next-level defenders and possibly rating. It would be a situational job which would make use of his limited abilities in the interim until the time will come when the Vikings can more quickly aspect strategies with him.

In Closing

The Vikings have a record of sticking with gamers who never change out significantly extended than they should. Christian Ponder, Matt Kalil, T.J. Clemmings and Laquon Treadwell are all illustrations of this reluctance. For such an significant aspect of the crew as the offensive line on the other hand, the Spielman-Zimmer routine can unwell-find the money for this reluctance now.

All the praise the Vikings coaching staff members and other people have provided O’Neill sounds like the exact same empty rhetoric that was provided to prop up Ponder, Kalil, Clemmings, Treadwell and other people when they were having difficulties. This is an particularly negative indicator that the coaching staff members acknowledges O’Neill’s troubling signs but refuse to confess it. With their work opportunities in Minnesota outside of 2019 possibly on the line, and also possibly hinging on subsequent season’s participate in of the offensive line, Spielman and Zimmer have to have to make what should definitely be the greatest selection heading forward.

They have to have to transfer on from a next round pick who in no way should have been drafted that superior in the to start with place. They can quickly accomplish this by putting him on the trade block during the draft or releasing/buying and selling him once they determine who his replacement will be. No matter of how they accomplish it, shifting on from Brian O’Neill is just one of the conclusions that could enable Spielman and Zimmer hold their work opportunities past this year.

Particular Many thanks to the draft analysis websites for their documents from the 2018 draft. You should subscribe to our Patreon to get special information and benefits and keep on to adhere to us right here at

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