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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Film study: Second-round pick O’Neill shouldn’t play right away

By Matthew Coller

In the second round, the Minnesota Vikings landed an offensive tackle with a high ceiling. But a review of his college film find that Brian O’Neill might need development before stepping into the limelight.

For the most recent episode of the Purple Podcast, we looked at O’Neill’s matchup against North Carolina State and No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb with NDTScouting analyst Brandon Thorn.

Listen to Brandon and Matthew break down O’Neill’s tape here:

We begin with the areas O’Neill will need work and then the parts of his game that are special.

On this play, the newest Viking gets worked by Chubb on a run up the middle. Having transitioned from a tight end to tackle, there are technical shortcomings in O’Neill’s game that could make it difficult to become a Day 1 starter.

Thorn uses this play as evidence.

“O’Neill’s job is just to kick Bradley Chubb out,” Thorn said. “It’s really important that he is good with his hands here and his base is underneath him when he blocks Chubb. Neither of those things happen. As soon as he comes out of his stance, you see his hand carriage is very low. His hands are down by his thighs and his knees, basically. That’s never good. That’s going to cause him to be delayed with getting his hands up into the proper placement onto the frame of Bradley Chubb. Right out of gate that’s a negative.”

Correcting O’Neill’s hand usage and footwork on a play such as this one could take time.

“There’s so many different alignments that you’re going to see and with each alignment you have to have different footwork,” Thorn said. “Chubb is an outside shade, pretty tight to O’Neill’s outside shoulder. That specific set of footwork certainly can be improved upon. It’s really just moving his feet a little bit better here, being a little bit more explosive out of his stance and different hand positions. I think when a coach watches this, that’s what they are probably going to lead with and try to correct with him and it’s just about how well he responds to it.”

Vikings GM Rick Spielman and lead scout Jamaal Stephenson pointed to strength as an area where O’Neill needs to improve in order to become a starting NFL tackle. Below, you can see he is overpowered by a bull rush.

“The number one thing he has to improve is play strength,” Thorn said. “And also technique to transition into an anchor. He’s taking a pass set here. He’s explosive out of his stance initially, that jumps off the screen in every clip I’ve seen from him. Very explosive. He gets to a good spot here. But he’s sort of leaning into contact here and his hands are wide – that’s a little bit of a trend here. His hands are very wide at the strike point. That allows his chest to be wide open. He’s also very high, he doesn’t even attempt to transition into an anchor here, he’s just trying to catch him. You cannot do that against a guy who is converting speed to power.”

One area where O’Neill has a chance to be a special player is blocking in space. This comes particularly in handy in the Vikings’ zone blocking scheme and on screen passes – which should be a staple of the Vikings’ offense with Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

On this play, he gets outside quickly, finds the nickel cornerback and eliminates him from the play.

“He’s pulling from the left tackle spot, that’s something you see from high level offensive linemen,” Thorn said. “You don’t pull your left tackle unless he’s outstanding in space. I’m not making this comparison, but somebody who does this is Trent Williams from Washington. Right here O’Neill is pulling and he’s looking for somebody to kick out and to expand that hole for the running back…O’Neill is very fluid and smooth out of his stance in the run game, he’s very natural at it. Closes ground extremely quickly and you’ll notice his head, he scans for threats, he scans inside and works inside out. That’s great right there.

“The body control, the speed in space, to track linebackers and square them up at the point of attack….in this game, O’Neill had some of the best blocks I’ve seen from a college prospect ever in space. Incredible stuff. I’m sure Minnesota saw this stuff and was enamored with the same things.”

The Vikings may end up playing O’Neill as a rookie if they feel they can work on some of his negatives and protect him by using movement up front or tight ends/running backs to give him help. Thorn, however, said that he might benefit more from sitting behind two veteran tackles as a rookie.

“Year 2 would probably be ideal to give him a full year in the system to get in the weight room, get a little bit stronger, refine himself on the technical aspects of the game in practice,” Thorn said. “There is room to get better even if he isn’t playing, learning from guys like Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers…they put him in a position where he was over-drafted, but in this tackle class, a lot of guys who are projects were….it’s tough to draft a guy like this in the second round where there are expectations placed on him, I really think he was a late round three or early round four type of guy.”

The post Film study: Second-round pick O’Neill shouldn’t play right away appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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