For the first time in what seems like forever, the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line looks close to set for the future. After a massive overhaul that has spanned multiple offseasons, the Vikings finally seem to have their bookend tackles with Brian O’Neill and Chrisitan Darrisaw. The edges are set, but they are without stability on the interior of the offensive line.
Though Ezra Cleveland has been solid, he has yet to take that next step and become a fixture of the O-line. Both Oli Udoh and Garrett Bradbury struggled in pass protection, and they might not be starting next season in Kevin O’Connell’s new offense.
If the Vikings want to improve their offensive line, they will need to add depth in these interior positions and land a potential starter. One player they should consider is Dylan Parham, an interior lineman from the University of Memphis.
Parham is projected to be a mid-round pick and would be an excellent fit for the Vikings. Though many people will say that he is undersized for the position, Parham played his entire college career at 285 lbs. Despite his lower weight, Parham warranted a first-team All-ACC selection with his play in 2021. He has also proven that he can play at a heavier weight. He impressed at the Senior Bowl at 313 lbs.
Parham’s size in college made him an incredibly athletic run blocker who was able to pull from the guard position and get downfield. His mobility was a key in the RPO-heavy offense that Memphis ran. He could get in space and clear the path for the ball carrier at the second level. Parham also showed an ability to use angles to his advantage. His mobility, core strength, and ability to sustain blocks will make him a good run blocker at the next level, but what sets him apart is his competitive edge and ability to finish off blocks.
Vikings fans will think about the likes of Garrett Bradbury and other lighter interior offensive lineman and their inability to pass-block, but Parham breaks this mold. While he sometimes gets overpowered, Parham has shown that he is a much better pass-blocker when playing at a heavier weight. He held his own against top defensive line prospects when some of his fellow lineman prospects struggled.
Parham’s versatility and ability to play in multiple positions is really exciting. He spent time at both guard positions in Memphis and even got some snaps at right tackle. However, he showed an ability to play at both guard positions and even took reps at center at the Senior Bowl, impressing multiple scouts on all three days of practice. His ability to play four out of the five offensive line positions is extremely useful in the NFL. Even if he doesn’t start right away, he can be a great sixth offensive lineman who can fill in when someone goes down.
If the Vikings can land him in the mid-rounds, Parham will be similar to what the Green Bay Packers have in Elgton Jenkins, their Pro Bowl lineman. We have all seen how invaluable his versatility was this season as he valiantly filled in for David Bakhtiari before tearing his ACL.
Although the Vikings have invested in some free agents to fill the right guard (Chris Reed, Austin Schlottman, and Jesse Davis), none of those guys really separate themselves. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to add in another mid-round player to the mix.
And yes, Wyatt Davis is still with the Vikings. But, as former Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin said, the selection of Davis was a “Rick Spielman special,” and he didn’t consult any of his scouts on the matter. The scouts weren’t particularly high on Davis; two of them allegedly “didn’t even have backup grades on him.”
Davis could break out under this new regime without last year’s toxic locker room culture, but I would temper expectations for him and the remaining free agents. Even if someone does cement themselves as the starting right guard, Parham can still find an important spot as a swing backup or a sixth offensive lineman on some of Minnesota’s heavier packages.