A closer look at the Vikings first-round draft pick
The Vikings selected offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw with the 23rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, after trading down from their #14 spot. Darrisaw was widely seen as the 3rd ranked tackle in the draft, behind Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater.
Darrisaw had the following measurements at his pro day:
Weight: 322 lbs.
Arm Length: 34.25”
Hand Size: 9.25”
Darrisaw didn’t do any of the athletic drills at his pro day, as he was recovering from core muscle surgery he had in January. He is generally described as a plus athlete, who’s quick out of his stance and has smooth footwork in both pass protection and zone blocking- which shows up on tape.
College Grades and Data
Darrisaw started at left tackle all three years he attended Virginia Tech, allowing just 7 sacks in over 1,100 pass blocking snaps over that period, and none in 2020. Last year he was voted an AP All-American second team, and First Team All-ACC . His 95.6 overall grade last year was the 2nd best awarded for a Power-5 conference tackle in the PFF college era, after Penei Sewell’s 95.8 in 2019, although Darrisaw faced more difficult competition.
Darrisaw is a devastating run blocker that didn’t lose many run blocking reps, and more often made the key block to spring the runner to the second level. He’s an excellent zone blocker, being able to move and pivot quickly to cut off defenders, and also be a productive blocker at the second level.
In pass protection he’s not always as dominant, and often appears to do ‘just enough’ to keep his man from pressuring the quarterback, rather than truly finishing the block. He doesn’t always play through the whistle, which sometimes can give his defender a second-chance at making a play.
Darrisaw showed a lot of toughness playing through injuries, as he played his whole freshman season with a bad ankle, and played through a groin injury this past season as well. He showed a lot of natural talent and ability, winning the starting job as a freshman, and is described by his coaches as a ‘grinder’ who works hard and has made a lot of progress over his three seasons at Virginia Tech. His PFF grades bear that out.
Athletically gifted left tackle prospect with the natural talent to be as good as he wants to be. Darrisaw plays with plus body control. He has the initial quickness and smooth agility to get to any and all blocks in the run game. The tape shows a player who’s able to make jaw-dropping cutoffs on the backside but who gives half-hearted effort securing down blocks and squeezing down to help protect the B-gap. He’s flexible and loose in pass pro, with the foot quickness and hand strength to punch and close up shop on would-be edge rushers. His mirror can get a little lazy at times, and he will definitely need to do a better job of finishing his blocks. The low-burn field demeanor leads to inconsistencies in play, but the athletic traits and talent as a true left tackle should create first-round demand as a higher-ceiling, lower-floor prospect. – Lance Zierlein
Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw earned the opportunity to start for the Hokies as a true freshman and did nothing but improve for three seasons, developing into a dominant blocker in 2020. From a size, length, and mobility standpoint, Darrisaw firmly checks the boxes and should immediately become an asset to an NFL franchise in pass protection, outside zone runs, and utilizing his exceptional ability to pull and connect with moving targets in space. Like most young offensive linemen, Darrisaw has room to add functional strength to improve his overall power at the point of attack, but it’s far from a deficiency that is of major concern. The amount of technical growth Darrisaw has demonstrated throughout the course of his career is exciting when considering his starting point for the next level and how he peaked at the perfect time. It shouldn’t take long for Darrisaw to earn a starting role in the NFL and he has the upside to become a standout, franchise left tackle. – Joe Marino, The Draft Network
Positives: Athletic, explosive offensive tackle who stands out in pass protection and blocking for the run. Sets with a wide base, works to bend his knees, and stays square. Patient in pass protection, keeps his feet moving, and makes exceptional use of angles. Correctly places his hands into defenders and easily rides them from their angles of attack.
Explosive at the point, knocks back defenders with violent hand punch and drives opponents from the line run blocking. Quick out to the second level and shows ability blocking in motion. Bends his knees and plays with proper pad level.
Negatives: Slow picking up blitzes and overextends on occasion. Struggles to adjust. Lacks quick, fluid footwork off the edge.
Analysis: Darrisaw was a terrific tackle at Virginia Tech the past two seasons and showed a lot of progress in his game during the 2020 campaign. He’s a devastating run blocker who holds his own in pass protection, and I believe he offers possibilities at left or right tackle in the NFL. – Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network
Darrisaw is NFL-ready, and looks to be the Vikings’ starter at left tackle this season. His strength is his run blocking, particularly as a zone blocker, but he’s also been very effective in pass protection. He’ll likely need to tighten up some technique issues, particularly in pass protection, to be as productive in the NFL, and also needs to consistently finish his blocks and play through the whistle.
These are not likely to be difficult issues to correct, particularly with an NFL off-season and coaching, along with pre-season, to get them corrected. He’ll face the normal transition issues for college players, adjusting to the speed of the game and level of competition, but based on how well he did against future NFL competition in college, it doesn’t appear that he’ll have unusual difficulty making those adjustments.