The Minnesota Vikings wanted to give Brian O’Neill time to prepare as a starter on the offensive line but being thrust into action showed his potential.
When the Minnesota Vikings used a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on offensive lineman Brian O’Neill, the team wanted to make him their right tackle of the future. However, his lack of size made a year of bulking up a good idea if they wanted to give him the best chance to succeed.
When starting right tackle Rashod Hill went down with an injury, O’Neill stepped in and played at a high level. With an offseason to continue working on bulking up, practicing his technique, and some experience under his belt, he has to be considered the frontrunner to be the starting right tackle for the 2019 season.
Recently, the Star Tribune praised O’Neill for his play during his rookie campaign, calling him a “silver lining” on the offensive line. He tied with starting left tackle Riley Reiff for their highest grade among offensive linemen with a score of three out of five.
The Star Tribune gave this evaluation of O’Neill’s performance:
"“Allowed 31 QB pressures (no sacks), becoming only one of two offensive tackles this season — with Dallas’ Tyron Smith — to play at least 500 pass pro snaps and not surrender a sack. Penalized four times, including three false starts. Struggled most as a run blocker, where he didn’t move many defenders.”"
Once he gains the muscle the team was hoping for, his run blocking should improve. However, his nimble feet and solid work with his hands should translate were already great signs his second year with Minnesota will be even better.
Riley Reiff, Pat Elflein, and Brian O’Neill should be considered the favorites to be starters on the offensive line in 2019 with the two guard spots being up for grabs considering the struggles of Mike Remmers and Tom Compton.
Brian O’Neill will be a player to keep an eye on during the 2019 NFL season and should continue to be a bright spot on the offensive line. If the team can improve on their talent at guard, expect to see a significant improvement on the right side of the unit.