How Suh Could Help the Vikings Defense
The former division rival, Ndamukong Suh, is currently a free agent after playing the last two seasons with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Recently rumors came up that he is interested in joining the Vikings.
Mutual interest is a great foundation for agreeing to a deal. Suh, however, is no longer the Suh that Vikings fans know from haunting their quarterbacks. In 11 games, he managed to sack the Vikings passer 8.5 times. Only Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews had more sacks against the Vikings since 2010.
The defensive tackle played five seasons in Detroit, three in Miami, one with the Rams, and three in Tampa Bay. He is a Super Bowl champion, three times first-team All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler, and was part of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
Do the Vikings Even Need Suh?
In 2010, the Lions selected the defender with the second overall pick, only behind former Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford. Suh is a true iron man. In his 12-year career, he has never missed a game with an injury and played 191 games. All of them were starts. The only time he didn´t play was in 2011, when he was suspended for two games after he intentionally stomped Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving.
Depth, especially on defense, is a big concern for fans of the Vikings. At the very least, Suh can be a dependable and always-available player to improve the roster’s depth. However, he can provide much more than just that.
Suh is completely scheme-flexible. He played in a 4-3 and a 3-4. That can be very important for the Vikings’ plans to be flexible upfront. The purple team employs three defensive linemen who are expected to start — Harrison Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Armon Watts. The problem is that none of the three provides a significant interior pass rush.
Suh, meanwhile, is a dangerous pass rusher that defenses have to account for. Since coming into the league in 2010, Suh recorded 70.5 sacks, which ranks him just outside the top-10 defensive linemen with the most sacks in that span.
The interior pass-rushing options for the Vikings are players like James Lynch, Jaylen Twyman, Jonathan Bullard, and Esezi Otomewo. All of them are either unproven or, simply put, not good enough to make a difference.
Suh will turn 36 years just before the Vikings will play the final game of the season against the Bears. He is no longer the player he once was; his PFF grades illustrate that reality. Between 2012 and 2018, his grades were always around 80. In 2019, the grade dipped to 69.6, in 2020 to 62.4, and in 2021, he returned a below-average grade of 52.4.
He won’t surpass Tomlinson and Phillips, who are experts in run defense and are getting paid the big bucks, but he can be a solid third defensive lineman for the Vikings. Especially on passing plays, Suh can bring a new dimension to the defense. Offensive lines have to account for edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith at all times, and Suh could get enough room to wreak havoc on the inside. The Vikings didn’t have an effective interior rusher in a long time.
Suh could not only help against the pass but also against the run. He was one of the top run-stopping defensive tackles in his prime. Even if he’s no longer the prime version of Suh, he can still help solidify the unit against the run after struggling in the last two seasons.
Even if he’s on a downward trajectory, he could still have a significant impact on the Vikings. He is highly intelligent, can help against the pass and against the run, and is one of the most durable players in the league. His experience can help to develop some younger players. In the worst-case scenario, he’s a depth piece and a mentor. In the best-case scenario, however, he’s a dominant force and game-changer. The veteran is a fantastic option to spend some of the remaining cap space.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt