2020 Vikings Defensive Breakout Candidates
The Vikings hit the reset button on their defense this offseason and now head into the 2020 season without a lot of their leaders. Their draft was full of young guys who are going to get an opportunity to fight for significant playing time early. Let’s dive into who has the best chance to replace one of Minnesota’s former stars.
Hughes has been on the cusp of breaking out for the last two seasons but injuries have derailed them both. He has never been elite, but has always been able to hold his own.
He is now the Cornerback with the most experience on the team and the starting role is his to lose. In five hundred coverage snaps Hughes has nine pass breakups and two interceptions while giving up five touchdowns. These stats are very similar to those of Jaire Alexander when condense to five hundred coverage snaps.
Watts is the latest in a long line of late round Vikings Draft picks that are outperforming their expectations. He only played one hundred and twenty-one snaps last season, but managed to put up over sixty percent of Shemar Stephens production. Watts seems to have all the right tools, and will force the Vikings to reconsider the starter at the three tech position.
Dye is a tweener of sorts and has an opportunity to take over Jayron Kearse big nickel position. It’s not a huge role as Kearse only played about ¼ of the snaps but it was an extremely important one depending on the coverage matchup. Dye brings great coverage skills, speed and blitzing potential.
His improvement could allow the Vikings to move on from Eric Wilson and eventual Anthony Barr as the guaranteed money on his lofty contract starts to lighten up.
Dantzler has the potential to be the best cornerback on the team. In college he never gave up over sixty yards receiving in a game. That’s while covering Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and Jamar Chase. He shows the ability to play both press and off coverage, and shows good enough ball skills to make quarterbacks pay for targeting him.
Given his size he may find trouble against stronger opponents at the next level, but with an already super physical play style he will bully lesser wide receivers. In a wide open competition at cornerback he has a chance to take the top spot.
A breakout year for Odenigbo wouldn’t surprise anyone. After the sometime struggle to find significant snaps he burst onto the scene on the Vikings rotational group. He was great last season, but most importantly he was able to hold up against the run just as much as he was able to get to the passer.
It’s important he improves because the Vikings will be looking to maintain their sack and pressure number with the loss of Everson Griffen, who accounted for eleven sacks and seventy pressures. It won’t be easy, but having Ifeadi helps out tremendously.