Another Branch of Vikings’ Defense Fetches Rotten Ranking

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First, it was the defensive line. Now, it’s the secondary.

Another Branch of Vikings’ Defense Fetches Rotten Ranking

Pro Football Focus apparently isn’t enthused — at all — about the Minnesota Vikings’ 2024 defense, assigning a horrible 30th-in-the-league ranking last month for the defensive line and 27th this week for the purple secondary.

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In a nutshell, PFF stated that the Vikings’ defensive trenches were the third worst, and the secondary was the sixth worst entering 2024. Not ideal.

PFF’s John Kosko defended the 27th ranking, “Defensive coordinator Brian Flores introduced an exotic defense in 2023, and it came with mixed results. Safety Camryn Bynum was the top-graded player in the secondary (73.2), while Harrison Smith’s 68.9 grade was the fourth-best on the team. Here, you get solid but not great players in the secondary, but no superstar players are taking this unit to higher levels.”

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For context, these are the Vikings’ cornerbacks as of July 2nd:

  • Byron Murphy
  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Mekhi Blackmon
  • Akayleb Evans
  • Andrew Booth
  • Khyree Jackson
  • Jaylin Williams
  • A.J. Green III
  • Dwight McGlothern

And the safeties to fill out the secondary:

  • Harrison Smith
  • Camryn Bynum
  • Josh Metellus
  • Lewis Cine
  • Jay Ward
  • NaJee Thompson
  • Theo Jackson
Vikings 2023
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Most Vikings fans consider the group decent or passable, not elite, but also not sixth-worst in the sport. In fact, at both roster spots, cornerback and safety, Minnesota has a bit of depth, which wasn’t necessarily the case in years past. Of course, both branches of the secondary lack tried-and-true Pro Bowlers, but the team’s faithful will hold out hope that a player or two blossoms to the next level.

In defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ first year with the Vikings, his defense was poor out of the gate, great for 10 games, and then collapsed in the last three. When Kirk Cousins was injured, Flores’ defense kept the enterprise afloat, propelling Minnesota to flirt with the postseason.

Here are the numbers:

Minnesota Defense,
Per EPA/Play,
NFL Ranking,

Weeks 1-3 = 26th
Weeks 4-14 = 1st
Weeks 15-17 = 31st

Could Be Cut This
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So, the defense, including the secondary, showed promise during the regular season but floundered down the stretch. Accordingly, newcomer defensive backs Shaquill Griffin, Khyree Jackson, and Dwight McGlothern joined the roster — all cornerbacks. Aside from NaJee Thompson’s apparent switch from corner to safety, the safety room largely remained the same.

A statistic mirroring PFF’s grim ranking? Last year, the Vikings ranked dead last in the NFL per completion percentage allowed.

The New York Jets (No. 1), San Francisco 49ers (No. 2), and Buffalo Bills (No. 3) topped the PFF list of best secondaries, with the Washington Commanders (No. 30), New York Giants (No. 31), and Arizona Cardinals (No. 32) in the cellar.

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 MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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