ESPN Identifies Vikings’ Main Weakness

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Thankfully, the 2024 Minnesota Vikings don’t have too many roster weaknesses with the regular season 75 days away. Soon, training camp will get underway, and around 5-7 roster battles will occur, nominating starters for Kevin O’Connell’s third season as the head coach.

ESPN Identifies Vikings’ Main Weakness

And according to ESPN, Minnesota’s current chief weakness is defensive tackle.

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The sports media giant sized up every team’s depth chart this week, and the Vikings’ roster ranked 23rd leaguewide — also known as 10th-worst. Certainly not ideal, ESPN’s Mike Clay put much of the blame on the DT spot, which is an obvious roster hole as of late June.

“Harrison Phillips is a serviceable veteran, though the 28-year-old struggled to generate much pressure last season (six pass rush wins). There’s not a ton to love behind him, with journeymen Jonathan Bullard, Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams positioned to handle the bulk of the snaps,” Clay explained about defensive tackle as a problem.

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For context, these are Minnesota’s DTs on the roster as of June 25th:

  • Harrison Phillips
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Jonathan Bullard
  • James Lynch
  • Jonah Williams
  • Jaquelin Roy
  • Levi Drake Rodriguez
  • Tyler Manoa
  • Taki Taimani
  • Jalen Redmond

That’s a whole lot of names but not much guaranteed production. And the problem is that the ship has sailed to improve this spot. The last best hope, Calais Campbell, signed with the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago.

Vikings Week 17 Final Injury Report
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Clay added, “The team’s only draft day investment in the position was seventh-rounder Levi Drake Rodriguez.” Drake Rodriguez is a neat story — The Athletic called him “Prospect X” leading up the draft — but depending on him as the secret fix is an extreme longshot.

The main problem with DT as the primary roster weakness is that it’s no longer fixable this offseason. In theory, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could’ve signed a free agent like Christian Wilkins, Leonard Williams, Arik Armstead, or D.J. Reader, among a handful of others, to nail down the position in Brian Flores’ defense, but the Vikings tabbed Jerry Tillery instead. The free-agent DT class was deep, and Minnesota mostly sat out.

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Then, during the draft, all the promising defensive tackles flew off the board in Round 1 and 2, and without a 2nd-Round pick, Adofo-Mensah could only watch. Accordingly, next to Phillips on the 2024 line, Vikings fans will hope Tillery, Lynch, Bullard, Roy, Williams, or Drake Rodriguez bust out into prominence. There are indeed enough bodies for a robust competition.

Hypothetically, Minnesota could also fire off a summer trade involving a player like Jonathan Allen of the Washington Commanders, though most of the purple draft capital was used on a deal for EDGE rusher Dallas Turner during April’s draft.

The Vikings haven’t employed a high-profile DT at the spot in question since Kevin Williams — 11 years ago.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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