The Minnesota Vikings’ 2021 NFL Draft class has been slow to produce results this season. In fact, it may be the most disappointing collection of first-year players in the league through the first quarter of the season. But that may have changed in Week 6 when first-round pick, Christian Darrisaw, made his much-anticipated debut as the team’s starting left tackle.
Darrisaw, who’s been recovering from a core injury since the start of the season, logged 52 pass-blocking snaps without surrendering a single pressure in his first NFL game, per Pro Football Focus, and finished Week 6 with the highest PFF grade among all Vikings offensive linemen. He displayed his trademark power in both the run game and in pass protection and proved that he’s more than athletic enough to deal with twitchy edge rushers like Carolina Panthers star Brian Burns.
Darrisaw finished the 2021 NFL Draft cycle 12th overall on The Draft Network’s player rankings, which is fair for a player who I had ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the class and behind only Penei Sewell at offensive tackle.
Darrisaw received high praise from TDN’s Joe Marino, who said the former Virginia Tech star “has the upside to become a standout, franchise left tackle.” He certainly played at that level against the Panthers despite the difficulties he faced on his road back to good health.
"It definitely was difficult on me mentally, but just having a support system around me ... just communicating my problems and what I’m going through [helped]," Darrisaw said this week. "I had bad days for sure. I didn’t know when I would be able to play again, but I just had to take it a day at a time and not rush things. Because rushing things really won’t equal up to good results. So I just took it a day at a time, and I knew my time was coming, and when it came I was ready."
"I don’t feel anything at all from the injury," Darrisaw said. "It’s 100% healed. The worst days are behind me and I feel great."
This is great news for a Vikings team that before Week 6 featured 11 drafted rookies who barely took any meaningful reps on offense or defense. Darrisaw can change that narrative by himself. A first-round success at left tackle is arguably the second-most impactful draft-day score aside from quarterback. So even if the rest of Minnesota’s 2021 class fails to deliver, hitting on Darrisaw is a massive victory.
There’s a long way to go before the story of Darrisaw’s rookie season is complete, but it’s off to a great start after his dominant showing against the Panthers.
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