One Part of Vikings’ Roster Dumped On by Pundits

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The Minnesota Vikings have tapered expectations after an offseason when the club cut ties with franchise staples Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. Oddsmakers believe Kevin O’Connell’s team will win about seven games and finish last in the NFC North.

One Part of Vikings’ Roster Dumped On by Pundits

One particular area of concern, according to NFL pundits, is the defensive line. A couple of times in the last several weeks, the group has placed near the bottom of the NFL per personnel rankings, raising eyebrows among fans.

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Most recently, Pro Football Focus laid down the hammer on Minnesota’s defense line, calling the Vikings front the third worst in the business. PFF situated Minnesota close to the basement at No. 30, only besting the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals.

“The Vikings’ offseason free agency swap of Danielle Hunter for Jonathan Greenard was likely a downgrade, even if they got younger and cheaper in the process,” PFF’s Sam Monson opined. “Andrew Van Ginkel earned a 91.1 PFF overall grade last season, but that was a massive outlier in a career that has typically seen him post grades in the 60s and 70s.”

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Monson didn’t mention Minnesota’s defensive tackles — the section of the defensive line that should drag the ranking down.

“Rookie Dallas Turner will have high expectations, but the interior of this line is a weakness,” Monson concluded.

Vikings Offseason
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If the season began today, the Vikings’ defensive line would look something like this:

OLB: Jonathan Greenard
DE: Jerry Tillery
NT: Harrison Phillips
DE: Jonathan Bullard
OLB: Dallas Turner or Andrew Van Ginkel

It’s worth noting that defensive ends and defensive tackles often interchange job titles in a 3-4 defense.

Additionally, PFF wasn’t the only outfit to chide Minnesota’s defensive trenches. In May, Fantasy FTN ranked NFL defensive lines — it stuck to the interior of units — and the Vikings checked in at second-worst or 31st in the spot.

“There isn’t much to celebrate on the Vikings’ defensive line. Two starters return from a 2023 defense that had just one player (outside linebacker Danielle Hunter) generate more than 40 pressures. The combination of Jonathan Bullard and Harrison Phillips each played 17 games but amassed a combined 30 pressures and 5.0 sacks,” FTN’s Dan Fornek explained. “As a positive, Harrison Phillips did finish the season with a run defense grade above 65.0 according to PFF. The defense wasn’t made much better with the addition of veteran DL Jerry Tillery. The five-year veteran is coming off a career-best season in terms of PFF grade (67.7), run defense (63.1) and pass rush grade (67.5).”

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking Minnesota’s iDL this low indeed makes more sense — unlike the PFF edition that included EDGE rushers.

Fornek concluded, “Time will tell if that grade is an anomaly or the new normal considering he never surpassed a 50.0 PFF grade in any of his previous four seasons. The Vikings have a lot of inexperienced depth behind a very average starting defensive line. It’s hard to see them breaking into the top 25 units given the talent they have on their roster.”

If either outfit is correct, the defensive line would represent the worst spot on Minnesota’s depth chart — a place where an NFL team shouldn’t skimp.

Here’s to hoping the regular season starts in 69 days and PFF + FTN Fantasy got it wrong. Otherwise, the 2024 season could bend perilously.

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