After passing on offensive line in the first round, the Vikings decided to address their greatest positional need by selecting tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. O’Neill was the third pure tackle off the board behind Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller, who went in round one.
Physically, O’Neill is one of the most impressive players in the class. Besides his ideal tackle frame of 6-foot-7 and 34-inch arms, he wowed at the combine with his athleticism. O’Neill’s 4.82 40-yard dash was the fastest among offensive linemen and his 20-yard shuttle was fourth-fastest. On the field, O’Neill is a quick and smooth blocker who wins with fast get-off, fluid movement and elite lateral quickness. He is also a solid mover simply by nature of getting into his man quickly and sustaining his blocks to the whistle.
The questions about O’Neill are twofold: One, he is still fairly raw and has technique that comes and goes. Two, he will have to add a considerable amount of mass before he can be a full-time starter. Simply put, 6-foot-7 tackles should weigh more than 300 pounds. Early on, O’Neill may be overpowered more than is ideal. But this pick seems to be with the future in mind as opposed to finding a top-flight day one starter.
That being said, the Vikings have enough scarcity on the offensive line that O’Neill figures to slot into the starting right tackle job. Mike Remmers would presumably kick inside to guard, as he did at the end of 2017. Another thought is O’Neill could become the left tackle eventually, which he played at Pitt. Though Riley Reiff was solid at left tackle last season, he was a career right tackle before coming to Minnesota.
That move would likely be a year or two away, however. For the time being, O’Neill is a bit of a project with high upside who fits well into the Vikings zone running scheme. His athleticism should allow him to be successful long-term, so long as he improves his play strength.
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