Why the Vikings shouldn’t move Brian O’Neill to left tackle in 2021

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Brian O'Neill
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Brian O'Neill /

With the recent release of Riley Reiff, some believe the Minnesota Vikings will shift Brian O’Neill from the right side of the offensive line to the left side.

During the last few seasons, there hasn’t been much to like about the Minnesota Vikings offensive line. But right tackle Brian O’Neill has been one of the few bright spots from the group since he was selected by the Vikings in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Viewed as a bit of a project coming out of college, O’Neill ended up starting 11 games as a rookie in 2018 thanks to other Minnesota offensive linemen going down with injuries.

He impressed enough during his first year in the league that the Vikings went ahead and made him their full-time starting right tackle in 2019 and he remained there last season as well. Following the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, it’s not a difficult argument to make that O’Neill was the best offensive linemen on Minnesota’s roster last year.

Minnesota Vikings should keep Brian O’Neill as their right tackle for 2021

Earlier this week, the Vikings made the tough decision to cut Riley Reiff. For the last four seasons, Reiff had been Minnesota’s starting left tackle. So now, the Vikings have to figure out who is going to replace him before they step back onto the field next season.

A bunch of people have already thrown out a handful of candidates that could take over as Minnesota’s starting left tackle, including O’Neill.

O’Neill spent part of his college career at Pittsburgh as a left tackle, so some believe it wouldn’t be difficult for him to transition over to the other side of the Vikings offensive line. While it might not be tough for him to make the switch, it doesn’t mean that this is the best solution for Minnesota to choose.

The Vikings used a second-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft to select former Boise State offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland. During his time in college, Cleveland spent the majority of his time as a left tackle. But in his rookie campaign with Minnesota in 2020, the team used him as a right guard.

If the Vikings are trying to decide if they should make Cleveland or O’Neill their new left tackle for next season, the choice should be Cleveland.

Instead of having two of their offensive lineman moving to new positions, they would only have one transitioning if they decided to go with Cleveland at left tackle. Keep the guy is who already excelling at right tackle in the same position instead of potentially having a problem on both ends of the offensive line.

When it comes to the Vikings, sometimes it’s just easier to go with the choice that will result in the least amount of headaches. When it comes to deciding if they should move O’Neill over to be their left tackle next season, fewer doses of Aleve will be needed if they just keep him at right tackle.