PFF Predicts Minnesota Vikings Starting Lineup
PFF, God bless them, continues to churn out content that can generate discussion. The latest example takes a stab at the Minnesota Vikings starting lineup.
For the most part, PFF gets things right. There are a handful of spots, though, where the analytics people may have erred in their judgement. More specifically, I think we might all be surprised by who starts at RG, weak-side LB, and corner.
Let’s start at the position that causes the most consternation: the offensive line. You’d have a difficult time convincing me that first-round tackle Christian Darrisaw doesn’t have the LT job. Now, he might struggle mightily, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not Minnesota’s best option (though Rashod Hill is underrated). The Minnesota Vikings don’t choose Darrisaw where they do – especially given their near outright neglect of the OL in free agency – unless they think he can immediately enter the starting lineup.
That being said, I don’t think we should so readily assume Wyatt Davis will similarly assert himself at RG. Dakota Dozier – as much as I hate to admit it – has a legitimate shot at being the starter there. For some reason, coaches value his veteran status and his willingness to just keep doing his job no matter how many times he gets beat. Mind you, Dozier is no longer the only option in town, and I’m not referring to Dru Samia. Nay, fans ought to remember that we’ve now got Mason Cole as an option. He isn’t exactly Quenton Nelson out there, but he be an improvement at guard. SI‘s Will Ragatz wrote about this exact thing not too long ago.
On defense, we find a little more uncertainty. Right now, PFF think Nick Vigil will get that weak-side LB job. Folks, there’s a good chance Vigil doesn’t even make this team. The coaching staff really respects Cameron Smith, and they’re obviously high on Chazz Surratt. The expectation ought to be that one of those two will win that job over Vigil.
At corner, it’s going to be a tough competition between Bashaud Breeland (great signing) and Cameron Dantzler. Indeed, one could reasonably make the case that the most intense Minnesota Vikings starting lineup battle will exist at the corner spot opposite Patrick Peterson. Something to consider: Zim has usually been hesitant to give young corners the nod over veterans. The reason, at least from what I can gather, is that he demands so much from his players on an intellectual level.
Last season, Zim had no choice but to play the young guys. He admitted that so much of the challenge was getting them to understand all that’s involved in his system: “We are still in kindergarten. We are trying to get to a master’s program here quickly.” With someone like Breeland, Zim won’t need to really worry about the fast-track from kindergarten to a master’s degree. Ditto for Peterson. It’s not that Dantzler isn’t a great corner, nor is it that he hasn’t shown tremendous promise. Instead, it’s the mere fact that you can’t teach seven years of experience. Breeland has that simply because he’s been around long enough.
With all that being said, it’s entirely possible that PFF got their Minnesota Vikings starting lineup projection entirely right. Love them or hate them, PFF usually has reasons behind their decisisons. With the lineup projection, it’s easy to see why they made the decisions they did.
Just don’t be surprised if even PFF gets a couple things wrong.