The contract Risner signed doesn’t reflect the signing of a backup offensive lineman. It signals that the Vikings either expect Risner to start or at the very least compete for one.Buy Vikings Tickets
The real intrigue with Risner being added to this group is the wealth of experience he has playing multiple positions. In the NFL, he has only played left guard, but started for entire seasons at right tackle and center in college.
What are the likely outcomes for how Risner gets used by the Vikings this season? There are five that are likely and we explore them here.
1. Replace Ed Ingram at RG
I have been mostly encouraged by Ed Ingram’s growth after last season. Now, it’s far from perfect. Ingram still loses more often than you’d want, as his seven pressures allowed would indicate. The wins have gotten more consistent and that has been encouraging. With the contract that the Vikings gave Risner, their patience with Ingram’s growth might be wearing thin.
2. Risner starts at center
It’s no secret that the Vikings have issues at center. They have since John Sullivan ended up leaving the Vikings. They drafted Garrett Bradbury in the first round in 2019 and those issues are still there, mainly in pass protection. If the Vikings choose to go with Risner at center, the pass blocking at the position is almost certain to improve.
3. Risner is the first off the bench
With backup left tackle Oli Udoh being placed on injured reserve, the Vikings needed to add depth on the offensive line. Risner has the ability to play multiple positions, something that is required from reserve offensive linemen.
In college, Risner was a three-year starter at center for Kansas State along with being the starter at right tackle in his senior year. For the Broncos, he played exclusively left guard, giving the Vikings flexibility to play all five positions on the offensive line.
4. Risner is your backup left tackle
Oli Udoh being out for the season stinks. He played relatively well against the Philadelphia Eagles before he tore his quadriceps tendon in the second half. With his departure, the Vikings need depth at the tackle position.
With Blake Brandel having played exclusively guard in training camp and the preseason, having Risner slide in as backup tackle could be what the Vikings are planning.
5. Risner plays LG while Ezra Cleveland plays tackle while Christian Darrisaw is out
Christian Darrisaw’s ankle injury could end up costing him more time than just Thursday night’s game against the Eagles. With that in mind, the Vikings might be willing to try and give Ezra Cleveland a chance to play left tackle.
He was drafted as a tackle by the Vikings in 2020 but was moved into guard almost immediately. Cleveland has reportedly expressed his desire to play tackle and allowing him to do so could earn the Vikings good faith with Cleveland and Risner could play left guard, where he played in Denver for four seasons.