Another Pass Rusher Could Join Vikings

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While everyone focuses on the NFL draft, which has the potential to be a franchise-changing one for the Minnesota Vikings, who are in the market to acquire one of the top QB prospects, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah continues to fill the roster with more talent. Experienced defensive back Shaquill Griffin joined the organization on Tuesday.

Another Pass Rusher Could Join Vikings

Another Pass Rusher Could Join Vikings
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He will play on a fully overhauled defensive unit that had to watch Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, Marcus Davenport, and Jordan Hicks exit the building.

To replace those four guys, the Vikings signed Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel to take over the pass-rush duties, and Blake Cashman will line up as Hicks’ successor as the middle linebacker next to Ivan Pace.

To completely replace the four departures, Minnesota needs to add one more edge defender, but that guy could be on the way. According to Jordan Schultz, the Vikings are hosting former Giants defender Jihad Ward for a visit.

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Besides the previously mentioned starters, the Vikings employ 2021 third-rounder Patrick Jones and last year’s undrafted player Andre Carter — two backups.

The latter is still waiting for his first sack, as he only recorded two tackles in 68 defensive snaps in 2023. Coming out of the Army, a slow career start was expected, but the physical upside is why the purple team kept him on the roster.

Jones, meanwhile, has tabulated five sacks through 42 games in three campaigns. He played 635 defensive snaps last season because injuries limited Davenport for the majority of the season and in addition to that, Wonnum missed the final two contests. The Pittsburgh product hasn’t improved much over the years, so adding another depth option is reasonable.

East Rutherford, NJ August 26, 2023 — Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers argues with Jihad Ward of the Giants in the first half. The NY Jets against the NY Giants on August 26, 2023, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, as the rivals play their final preseason game before the start of the NFL season.

Ward has been in the league for eight seasons and played for five different teams, racking up 18 sacks. He has worn the jerseys of the Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and in the last two seasons, the New York Giants.

His most productive campaign came in 2023 when he sacked opposing QBs five times. In two seasons with the Giants, Ward collected a total of eight sacks, 67 tackles, and 12 tackles for loss.

Flores Flourish
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Minnesota’s defense ranked 19th in the NFL with 43 sacks despite having the highest blitz rate in the league. Building the necessary depth to compensate for injuries and fatigue is crucial.

The 2016 second-round pick is unlikely to become a successful starter, but he could be a rotational pass-rusher, someone who can take some work off the starters or play when DC Brian Flores wants more than two edge defenders on the field, allowing him to rotate one to the interior of the defensive line.

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