New Vikings Defender Has a Familiar Pro Comparison
The Vikings came out of the draft with a nice haul. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah entered the event with five draft picks and exited with six new players and some intriguing undrafted rookies.
First-round receiver Jordan Addison has the highest expectations of the new arrivals. He is foreseen to replace Adam Thielen, who moved on to the Carolina Panthers. A duo of defensive backs should also play a role. Both Mekhi Blackmon and Jay Ward enter a wide-open race for starting jobs in Brian Flores’ new defense. With the 222nd pick, Minnesota found a new running back. DeWayne McBride is a true power back with fascinating tools. He could replace Dalvin Cook if the star is cut or traded.
New Vikings Defender Has a Familiar Pro Comparison
Another interesting defender was added in the fifth round, defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy. Adofo-Mensah traded up 17 spots with the Colts. Like Ward, the 141st overall pick came out of LSU and is much-needed help for the defensive line. Minnesota gave up pick 211 in the transaction.
Roy is a 6-3, 305-pound defensive tackle with the potential to provide some interior pass rush. The Vikings lost some of that when Dalvin Tomlinson departed in free agency. The veteran signed a huge deal with the Cleveland Browns.
Tomlinson spent two years with the Vikings. He and Patrick Peterson were the two big signings in the 2021 offseason to help the disastrous 2020 defense improve. That worked to some extent but overall failed, and Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer had to leave. The new regime gladly accepted Tomlinson, as he’s an excellent player. He is one of the most consistent players in the league and good in both run and pass defense.
The Vikings didn’t replace him in free agency. They only signed former Packers defensive end Dean Lowry and the team had an underwhelming defensive line entering the draft. Many expected them to be in the market for a lineman in the first round, like Bryan Bresee, Mazi Smith, or Calijah Kancey, but they entered round five of the draft with the same depth chart as before the draft.
Roy was the only addition to the defensive front in the draft. He was ranked at the 116th spot on the consensus big board, so the Vikings got a discount when they traded up to get him. He clearly was their target. That’s even more obvious because they traded up for him.
Roy received a familiar pro comparison from NFL.com’s scouting expert Lance Zierlein. His NFL comparison for Roy is, exactly, the departed Viking, Dalvin Tomlinson.
He won’t be Tomlinson at the beginning of his career. That would be too much to ask. However, after a few years under his belt, he has the potential to be one of the league’s better interior defenders, and those are worth a lot in today’s NFL. We all saw the expensive contracts they signed in free agency or via extension.
Zierlein’s expert evaluation:
The more you watch, the more you like the way Roy plays the game. He’s a little tight in his lower body, which prevents consistent gap leverage as a run defender, but he has outstanding upper body power and plays with unbridled energy. Roy has one-gapping snap quickness and two-gapping potential if he can become more consistent with taking on blocks. Despite limited starting experience at LSU, he already displays signs of a rush plan and the athletic talent to execute it. Roy is an ascending talent with the potential to become a quality starter.
It will be interesting to see what the Vikings want to do with him. In 2021 at LSU, he played as a 3-technique, a position that fits him and his body type. The coaching change and the subsequent scheme change moved him over to nose tackle, where he lined up right over the center.
The Vikings don’t employ a huge nose tackle, but Harrison Phillips and Khyiris Tonga can certainly fill that role, so Roy can move back to his better-suited defensive end position.
Roy is in a great spot for his development, as the Vikings need help at the interior defensive line. Phillips is a fine player, but everyone else is a mystery. Tonga played well last season in limited playing time, but was it a fluke, or can it be replicated? Free agent signee Lowry is a pass-rush specialist. His run defense is a glaring weakness in his game.
Backups James Lynch, Esezi Otomewo, and Ross Blocklock must improve to be meaningful contributors in the defense and not just random rotational bodies. Minnesota also re-signed Jonathan Bullard, last year’s starter, and brought in Sheldon Day and T.J. Smith.
The quantity is fine, but the quality could be better. For that reason, Roy should see the field early and often in his rookie campaign. Vikings fans should hope he can turn into some version of Tomlinson as soon as possible.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. 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
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