1. Brian O’Neill – OT
The Minnesota Vikings may have suffered some struggles with their interior protection in 2019. But the production of right tackle Brian O’Neill was nothing short of exemplary.
O’Neill emerged as one of the NFL’s brightest young offensive tackles last season. He made considerable strides in all areas of play. And the sky is the limit in terms of how much he can develop in a pivotal third year for the player.
His quiet demeanor off the field is a stark contrast to the fierce competitor we see on it. O’Neill’s play at right tackle contributed significantly to quarterback Kirk Cousins having a career year. And his ability to create holes in the run game proved highly beneficial for Dalvin Cook.
The former Notre Dame standout is still relatively overlooked in terms of recognition. But that is something that will change in the not-too-distant future with another exceptional campaign of production under his belt.
O’Neill gave up one sack and seven penalties from 967 snaps in 2019. This earned him a 70.7 grade from Pro Football Focus. But more importantly, it gave the Vikings dependable edge protection opposite Riley Reiff.
If O’Neill reaches or even succeeds expectations next season, it could come with a financial incentive. He is heading into the penultimate year of his rookie deal. And he is sure to be looking for a bigger payday than the $1.08 million in base salary he will earn in 2021.