Top Weakness on Vikings Roster Isn’t Surprising

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The Minnesota Vikings addressed most of the team’s problems in the offseason. This is the third offseason under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s and Kevin O’Connell’s watch. Most notably, the duo added quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the tenth overall selection and seven picks later, Alabama’s star defender Dallas Turner. One area of the team, however, remains a problem.

Top Weakness on Vikings Roster Isn’t Surprising

Biggest Weakness of Vikings Roster Isn't Surprising
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The defense, led by defensive coordinator Brian Flores, has undergone a serious makeover recently. Almost half the starters have been replaced, especially the departure of Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter could hurt. However, there have also been various additions, with pass-rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel joining the aforementioned Turner. Linebacker Blake Cashman hopes to build on his strong breakout campaign, and Shaq Griffin provides a veteran presence to a young cornerback group.

The Vikes have also signed a pair of defenders to strengthen the defensive line, but the front office failed to acquire a difference-maker. It was the team’s weakness and will again be a problem.

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Bleacher Report’s Matt Holder named every team’s weakness, and he rightfully picked the interior pass rush to be Minnesota’s.

This point has been belabored all offseason and during the regular season: The Vikings could use a defensive tackle who can put pressure on the quarterback. While they did sign Jerry Tillery on the open market, his career high for sacks in a season is 4.5—three years ago.

Minnesota has a good collection of edge-rushers in Andrew Van Ginkel, Jonathan Greenard and first-round pick Dallas Turner, but someone on the inside needs to step up to help flush the quarterback out of the pocket.

Matt Holder

At the end of last season, it became pretty obvious how bad the interior pass rush was for Minnesota. NFL analyst Brett Kollmann tweeted some unbelievable numbers:

The Vikings weren’t just dead last in the league; they also had a remarkable gap to the second-worst franchise.

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Entering the offseason, the purple team only had Harrison Phillips and Jaquelin Roy on the roster. In free agency, veteran Jonathan Bullard was re-signed, and the team then added Jonah Williams, previously with the Rams and former first-rounder Jerry Tillery.

Of those five players, only Tillery has shown the ability to get after the passer. He is a liability versus the run and isn’t more than a pass-rush specialist. Phillips, Williams, and Bullard can stop the run, but quarterbacks don’t have to account for them on passing downs. Last year’s rookie, Roy, didn’t get much run in his debut season.

The top targets in free agency either signed with their old organizations or, like Christian Wilkins and Arik Armstead, found other homes.

In the draft, the Vikings were rumored to be interested in Texas lineman Byron Murphy, who went just before the trade-up for Turner. The franchise also passed on Johnny Newton, so the weakness remained.

Levi Drake Rodriguez
Levi Drake Rodriguez. Image Courtesy of The Vikings drafted Drake Rodriguez in Round 7 of the 2024 NFL Draft, and he’ll compete for a roster spot this summer.

Levi Drake Rodriguez was drafted in the seventh round. He played at Texas A&M Commerce at the FCS level. Although he was a dominant force there, it was still against lesser competition. Following the draft, the team signed UDFAs Tyler Manoa and Taki Taimani, two more run-stoppers.

Unless late-rounder Rodriguez is a surprise star in his rookie season, which is quite unlikely, the Vikes will again struggle to pressure signal-callers from the interior. Coordinator Flores must again work his magic and create interior pressure via blitzes and rotating edge defenders inside.

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