PFF Defines Vikings Offseason Need — and Nails It

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in August of 2022 at Minnesota Vikings headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota.

While the Minnesota Vikings must formulate a 2023 plan to improve a cornerback room consisting of Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, Cameron Dantzler, and maybe Patrick Peterson plus Duke Shelley, that isn’t the only roster need.

The team lagged on defense in 2022, and all the dirtiness came out in the wash against the New York Giants in the playoffs — the worst possible time for fruition.

PFF Defines Vikings Offseason Need — and Nails It

According to Pro Football Focus — and conventional logic — the Vikings should upgrade at defensive tackle, perhaps formally identifying the spot as an offseason need. PFF did precisely that this week, as Sam Monson authored an article about every team’s offseason need.

PFF Defines Vikings
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

These are the Vikings solutions at defensive tackle since 2016:

  • 2016 = Shamar Stephen
  • 2017 = Tom Johnson
  • 2018 = Sheldon Richardson
  • 2019 = Shamar Stephen
  • 2020 = Jaleel Johnson
  • 2021 = Armon Watts
  • 2022 = Jonathan Bullard

It always seems the Vikings “just do whatever” at the DT spot next to the nose tackle. They should end this tendency.

Monson explained the Vikings offseason need for a defensive tackle, “Minnesota’s edge-rush duo of Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter combined for 156 total pressures this past season, though it remains to be seen if both will be retained for 2023 or whether the team will look to get cheaper at the position.”

Vikings Urged to Keep Big
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“The real failings were at defensive tackle. Dalvin Tomlinson led the interior linemen with 30 pressures across 348 rushes, and the Vikings as a unit allowed 4.5 yards per rush, 21st in the league,” Monson concluded.

So, what this suggests for 2023 is a roster upgrade at Jonathan Bullard’s spot. Bullard did a serviceable job when healthy, but he did not add extra pizazz or production as a defensive tackle, and the Vikings pass rush correspondingly struggled much of the time.

Vikings Designate Defensive
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

To fix this, Minnesota could look inward at Ross Blacklock, Esezi Otomewo, or James Lynch, but those three could teeter on “more of the same” via anonymous DT production. In free agency, which begins in six weeks, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could swing for the fences by acquiring a man like Daron Payne from the Washington Commanders. Payne would be expensive but also a shoo-in to force quarterback pressure on the inside of the Vikings defensive line.

There’s also a pipe dream for Bryan Bresee from Clemson to fall in the draft. The Vikings inhabit the No. 23 hole, and Bresee is unlikely to tumble that far. But stranger things have happened. If he’s there for Adofo-Mensah, the Vikings can fix this defensive tackle thing once and for all.

The moral of the story is to “do something.” Bullards, Stephens, and the others haven’t netted dividends, and Minnesota’s defense desperately needs across-the-board improvement.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by