The 7 New Vikings Who Could Start on Defense

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The Minnesota Vikings flipped the script over the last four months — strategically and on the depth chart. The club said sayonara to franchise cornerstones Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter and welcomed rookies J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner.

The 7 New Vikings Who Could Start on Defense

Between roughly 15 new free agents, around 20 players departing from the 2023 roster, and 24 rookies from the draft and undrafted free agency, the club will have some new starters this season.

These are seven new possible starters on defense, listed alphabetically.

1. Blake Cashman (LB)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Jordan Hicks

This Eden Prairie hometowner signed on the Vikings’ dotted line right away during free agency and has a clear path to a starting off-ball linebacker spot. The guy who held the job last year, Hicks, now plays for the Cleveland Browns.

Barring injury, this Minnesota native will start for Minnesota in Week 1 next to Ivan Pace Jr.

2. Jonathan Greenard (OLB)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Danielle Hunter

Minnesota and Houston basically swapped Hunter and Greenard, with Greenard at a bit more affordable pricepoint and two years Hunter’s junior. He achieved stardom last year, tabulating 12.5 sacks, and will use Minnesota as his career’s second chapter.

Like Cashman, Greenard is a certainty to start for the 2024 Vikings.

3. Shaquill Griffin (CB)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Akayleb Evans

Griffin joined Minnesota’s roster after the first wave of free agency, almost feeling like a complementary piece in the secondary at the time. But due to his experience — 89 career games with 79 starts — he’s the most experienced cornerback in the purple locker room.

He could steal Akayleb Evans’ job, for example, this summer.

4 & 5. Dallas Turner (OLB) or Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Marcus Davenport

Turner and Van Ginkel will likely finish 2024 with similar defensive snap counts, but no matter what, change is on the menu because Marcus Davenport and D.J. Wonnum held this job in 2023.

Van Ginkel will likely serve as a situational pass rusher when the dust settles, with Turner as the bellcow EDGE. But it’s a guessing game on the timing.

6 & 7. Jerry Tillery (DT) or Jonah Williams (DT)

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Replaced (or Might Replace): Dean Lowry

The Vikings didn’t afford many resources to the defensive tackle spot next to the nose tackle — they never do — therefore, this new starter outcome is between Tillery and Williams.

Williams started more games for the Rams in 2023 than Tillery did for the Raiders, but both had similar snap counts when the season ended.

With a side dish of Jonathan Bullard, may the best man replace Lowry in 2024.


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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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