Will the Vikings Have a Top 10 Defense?

Flores Flourish
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been very active in free agency, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Those additions include Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Blake Cashman, and Shaquill Griffin.

Will the Vikings Have a Top 10 Defense?

While the loss of Danielle Hunter definitely hurts, Minnesota’s new additions will certainly help. This will also be Brian Flores’ second season as the defensive coordinator, and Van Ginkel’s familiarity with his system makes him an even better addition. D.J. Wonnum tied for a career-high last season with eight sacks. He will also be missed, but Van Ginkel is a suitable replacement.

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Hunter has been one of the best pass rushers in the league since he was drafted in 2015. He had a career-high 16.5 sacks last season. While Greenard is a downgrade from him, he is still a good pass rusher — tallying 12.5 sacks last season (a career-high). As a whole, this unit should be better, though. They can still add more to the roster via free agency and next month’s draft.

Could Minnesota add another cornerback? Many fans want to see Xavien Howard in purple. He’s also a Flores guy, and he recently praised him.

They could use another cornerback. Byron Murphy Jr. did not play as well as expected, but he did fine overall. Griffin is a low-risk, high-reward signing, but what if he struggles this year? Akayleb Evans was very up and down last year. Mekhi Blackmon had a promising rookie year, but will he progress? Andrew Booth Jr. has shown some flashes in his two seasons, but can he also take that next step?

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Even if Griffin struggles, he will still bring competition. You can never have too many cornerbacks, either, especially in a league that continues to be very pass-happy. Howard would be a very nice addition, and they should be able to afford him. He is not the same player he once was, but his experience would still make the defense better, and his experience would be beneficial to the young cornerbacks. Like Van Ginkel, he knows Flores’ system, too.

Last season, the defense ranked 16th overall, and its 21.3 points per game allowed was tied for 13th, which was undoubtedly a step forward from Ed Donatell’s unit the year before. Can this year’s unit be a top-10 defense? Yes, it can. Without a doubt, the biggest question mark for this team is who they will draft at quarterback and whether he will be good or not.

Defense, of course, is still essential, too, and cannot be forgotten.

It will be a shock if Minnesota does not trade its 11th and 23rd overall picks to move up for a quarterback, but if it does not, it could take a defensive tackle with the 11th pick — perhaps Byron Murphy II or Jer’Zhan Newton.

If they do not sign Howard, maybe they could go cornerback with the 11th or 23rd pick. Or maybe they could still take one and bring him along slowly, even if Howard is signed. Quinyon Mitchell, Terrion Arnold, or Nate Wiggins could be the picks if they stay put.

Domino Quietly
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores chatting with Tatum Everett on February 15th, 2023. The Vikings hired Flores from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a linebackers coach for one season.

This is undoubtedly one of the biggest drafts in team history. Some could even make a valid argument that it is the biggest one in team history, given that they still have not won a Super Bowl and have not had much stability at quarterback since Fran Tarkenton.

Yes, quarterback once again is the biggest question mark, but maybe they will also land a star defender this draft. In the end, the whole team is very important, even though quarterback is the most important position.


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