Christian Darrisaw, drafted 23rd overall out of Virginia Tech in the 2021 NFL Draft, has played and will continue to play one of the most important positions in football for the Minnesota Vikings: left tackle. In college, Darrisaw exceeded expectations and cemented himself as one of the best players in the nation following his junior year. In his rookie NFL season, even with shaky coaching and battling through injury, the then 22 year old showed flashes of greatness. This greatness is something that the Vikings coaching staff, as well as Vikings fans around the world, are hoping to consistently see plenty of in the future. Analyzing Darrisaw’s abilities up to this point, it becomes clear that elite offensive tackle play is within reach.
During his three years at Virginia Tech, Darrisaw played well early, yet still continued to improve immensely. In 2018, he became one of a few freshmen to start at offensive tackle in their first ever collegiate game. As the years progressed, Darrisaw only saw improvement, increasing his understanding of blocking at the second level, decreasing his penalties, and thereby starting each game at left tackle for the Hokies. His noticeably quick lateral movement as well as other factors enabled him to jump high on draft boards in the 2021 NFL Draft, eventually making his way over to Minnesota.
As a rookie, Darrisaw’s biggest struggles came from injury. He was forced to miss the first three games of the season, and suffered slightly more later in the season, leading to inactivity during weeks 12 and 13. Yet, even with seemingly never feeling completely healthy all season, Darrisaw continued to shine. He allowed only 5 sacks throughout the season, while also limiting his penalties to only 3. Furthermore, his PFF grade of 71.9 stands out among Vikings offensive linemen as well as rookies throughout the league.
Now, throughout training camp this summer prior to his second NFL season, Darrisaw has once again caught the attention of many. He has dominated in 1-on-1 drills against star pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’darius Smith, easily solidifying his role in the Vikings offensive line and guarding the blindside of quarterback Kirk Cousins. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has openly admired the left tackle’s abilities, claiming that “he’s got great feet, he’s got the length to play that position” while also praising Darrisaw’s football intelligence, stating that “he naturally sometimes just does things based upon the right play – just understanding how we want to execute in the screen game, the play-pass game….” The 6’5”, 315-pound player has demonstrated so much athletic and mental prowess that he has drawn incredible comparisons from those watching him play. NFL insider Ian Rapoport reports that “the comparison [he] gets here [at Vikings training camp]…is Trent Williams,” the 9-time Pro Bowler. Darrisaw has taken remarkable strides, and has blown away thousands of viewers this summer.
Considering Christian Darrisaw’s growth in college, his relatively successful rookie year, and the impressions he has made thus far before his second season, it is evident that a breakout season is in the works. Though he has shown some signs, his legacy and career cannot be shaped by individual flashes. As the 2022 NFL season gets underway, Vikings coaches, fans, and fellow players are excited to see if Darrisaw can bring it all together and help launch the Vikings offense into a whole new dimension.