Hill’s agent, Brett Tessler, tweeted on July 30 that “The Washington Commanders just signed my client Rashod Hill. 6-year vet has been with the Vikings most of his career and has been a durable swing tackle with plenty of starting experience.”
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Washington confirmed the signing later, releasing offensive lineman Beau Benzschawl and placing franchise sack leader Ryan Kerrigan, who announced his retirement on July 29, on the reserve/retired list to make room for Hill and fellow tackle Alex Akingbulu.
Hill appeared in 74 games and made 22 starts from 2016 to 2021 for the Vikings.
Vikings Offensive Line Taking Shape at Training Camp
Hill was one of the last remnants of an era of struggles on the Vikings offensive line. While he was a fill-in starter, he provided stability, playing both the left and right tackle positions.
Minnesota’s bookends appear to be in good hands with right tackle Brian O’Neill being the longest-tenured player on the offensive front. O’Neill has yet to earn Pro Bowl recognition, but his development over the past four seasons has been indicative of what the Vikings hope to see from the rest of the line, including second-year left tackle Christian Darrisaw.
“O’Neill has been a bright spot in an oft-criticized Vikings offensive line. His athleticism is put to use in Minnesota’s outside zone-dominant rushing attack, and he’s done a good job of limiting the hits on Kirk Cousins,” Pro Football Focus (PFF) writer Ben Linsey wrote in May. “O’Neill has allowed just 15 combined sacks and hits from 1,699 pass-blocking snaps at tackle over the past three seasons. That rate of 113 snaps per knockdown ranks seventh among 49 tackles with at least 1,000 pass-blocking snaps since 2019.”
O’Neill was rewarded handsomely last offseason, signing a five-year, $92.5 million contract extension, setting an example of the payoff ahead for younger linemen.
Center Garrett Bradbury is next in line for an extension, however, his struggles have called his future into question for the team. The Vikings did not exercise Bradbury’s fifth-year option, making this his final year to prove his worth. Bradbury ranked 38th in pass protection among 40-graded centers who played a minimum of 20% offensive snaps with a 43.7 pass-blocking grade last season.
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Darrisaw, despite struggling with a groin injury to start his rookie year, came on strong late in the season and could be the brightest light for the line’s future.
“Darrisaw got off to a late start to his rookie year due to a preseason injury. He ended up playing in 11 games and posted a 71.8 PFF grade over that span, ranking 20th of 39 qualifying left tackles,” PFF’s Anthony Treash wrote at the regular season’s conclusion in January. “The first-round pick’s run-blocking stood out in particular — Darrisaw posted a 77.2 grade in that facet. Not only is that the sixth-best among left tackles for the 2021 season, but it’s also the fourth-best by a rookie at the position in the last decade. Needless to say, the future looks promising for the Virginia Tech product.”
Left guard Ezra Cleveland has shown consistently competent guard play, allowing just one sack last season despite inconsistency from the rest of the offensive interior.
PFF lead draft analyst Mike Renner published his preseason offensive line rankings on June 13 and ranked the Vikings 19th in the league — the highest preseason ranking Minnesota has had since ranking 14th ahead of the 2017 season.
Right Guard Remains a Concern
Despite a new regime in Minnesota, the revolving door at guard remains. The Vikings have been trying to get the guard position right for years.
Reed has experience at center as well, which could call Bradbury’s role into question if he does not perform well this season.
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