Minnesota made a splash Sunday morning by trading for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. The speed rusher was disgruntled with the Jaguars and found a new home with the Vikings, opposite of Danielle Hunter. This is great news for most players, but a few have seen their potential opportunities diminish or disappear.
Rookie defensive linemen
The Vikings drafted D.J Wonnum, John Lynch, and Kenny Willekes( who was seemingly injured In practice) to provide depth for the defensive line, and now it seems that’s all they are going to do. Disregarding injury these players have seen their roles diminish or disappear. There wasn’t much training camp buzz about the defensive line rookies, and this trade is evidence of that.
Stephen has been able to stick with the Vikings for another year, and move to Nose tackle with the absence of Michael Pierce. With this trade, Stephen will likely see his pass rushing snaps given away to Armon Watts or Jaleel Johnson to make room for Ifeadi Odenigbo at the three technique. This will provide the Vikings with their best pass rushing sets, and will likely be used often.
Just as Johnson was on the verge of a breakout season, he will see his pass rushing snaps diminish in more obvious passing situations. He will also likely have to pass rush more from the nose tackle spot, which Andre Patterson explains has a ”different stance and technique” than Vikings three technique. If Johnson can continue to produce then Vikings will have no choice but to leave him out there, but if he struggles rest assured Ifeadi Odenigbo will move inside on passing downs.
The Vikings were set to enter the regular season with a cornerback room who’s average age is twenty-four. They are going to make mistakes, but an elite pass rush will lower those tremendously. Not to mention increasing the pressure on the Quarterback will inevitably lead to more plays made by Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris.
No one really knows if Ifeadi was going to be able to fill the void left by Everson Griffen . This trade takes all the pressure off of Odenigbo to be Griffen’s replacement and allows him to continue to hone his craft and focus on getting better. He will still get his fair share of snaps with Ngakoue in town, and he still has a lot to prove.
The buzz around the NFL was that the Vikings defense was ready for a big regression due to lost starters. It was starting to feel like 2018 again where Cousins was going to have to play lights out for the Vikings to win games. This trade should take some pressure off of the offense. Yannick Ngakoue is a pro bowl level talent that will elevate the defense, improving upon where they were last season. This may be the best Vikings defense Cousins has played with.