The Minnesota Vikings haven’t spent a high draft pick on an interior lineman since Shariff Floyd in 2013. In fact, Floyd is the only defensive linemen, end or tackle, drafted above the third round in the Rick Spielman era.
Despite this lack of spending of high draft picks, the Vikings have gotten decent production out of their defensive tackles by bringing free agents like Sheldon Richardson, training up lower picks, and by relying on the dominant play of Linval Joseph. Now, the Vikings are facing a challenge. They have no money to spend on free agents and Linval Joseph is no longer a force.
There’s a few different options the Vikings have at this point. They could roll with who you have and hope that there’s enough growth of young players to make their interior defensive line a strength. They could spend a high draft pick, first or second round, on a defensive tackle that could be a plug and player starter. Finally, they can try to get more talent later in the draft and use more of a rotation of defensive tackles.
If the Vikings want to target defensive tackles late, they could consider McTevin Agim from the University of Arkansas. Agim, a 6’3” 307 lbs monster, recorded 140 total tackles (61 solo, 79 assisted) in four years for the Razorbacks. He also recorded 14.5 sacks and 31.0 tackles for loss. Agim also reportedly had very strong practices before both the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
When you watch Agim, the first thing that you notice is his athleticism. He’s got a big frame, but he moves very well, especially in a straight line. Interior offensive linemen have trouble keeping up with him. He could use his hands more effectively, but does have some ability to stack-and-shed with his long arms. His spin move is his go to, but he could use some schooling in pass rush technique. Long arms means he should be able to help knockdowns passes even if he’s blocked.
He played both outside and inside in the Arkansas defense, but doesn’t have what it takes to be an edge player at the next level. Agim can get lost a bit in run defense, and he doesn’t use leverage well enough to take advantage of his strength. However, his straight line speed is incredible, and he has a strong first step. He could be an excellent pass rushing defensive tackle, but won’t be a three down player any time soon.
Agim can also get overaggressive and take himself out of plays. Since he has such a great first step, and is so good in a straight line, he can get over excited and leave his gap open for running backs. He’ll need to learn to slow down on running downs and process what’s happening in front of him. He can get lost and have to search for the ball.
Agim is certainly an intriguing prospect, and his draft position is exactly where the Vikings like to take defensive linemen. Unfortunately, Agim’s ceiling likely isn’t much higher than his floor. The best you can hope for is a disruptive three-technique pass rusher who can rotate in on passing downs and I don’t know that Agim is any better than what the Vikings have right now.
That said, if Agim is still there in the sixth or seventh round, or even falls to be an undrafted free agent, a flyer on him wouldn’t be a bad idea. He’s got length, something that Zimmer loves in his defensive line, and is a great athlete for his frame. He might not turn heads or become a star, but he could be a solid rotational piece.
Projected Draft Position: Fifth-Seventh Round
Best Traits: First step, Pass rush, Athleticism
Biggest Drawbacks: Overaggressiveness, Use of length