Vikings Add Another Defensive Piece

Vikings
Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive reinforcements were needed after the unit flamed out in the last few games of the 2023 campaign, allowing 30 points in each of the last four games and 21 points in the fourth quarter versus the Bengals in the previous contest. The departures of Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, Marcus Davenport, and Jordan Hicks also opened some more holes.

Vikings Add Another Defensive Piece

Vikings Add Another Defensive Piece
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah immediately agreed to terms with three starters once free agency had begun. Pass-rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel are expected to be the team’s top outside linebackers while Blake Cashman will replace Hicks as the middle linebacker.

The weakest area of the roster was the defensive line, a huge deficiency of the 2023 group. Other than Harrison Phillips, nobody was a starting-caliber player and he is a run-stopper only with limited value in the passing game. Adofo-Mensah’s task to sign a star defensive tackle failed as one after another found a new team.

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However, he signed Jerry Tillery, a veteran who is a capable (and much-needed) pass-rusher and on Monday, another interior lineman joined him. Minnesota announced the signing of former Los Angeles Rams defender Jonah Williams.

Coming out of Weber State, Williams went undrafted in 2020 and signed with the Rams as an UDFA. Failing to make the team in his debut season, he earned a spot on the practice squad. In his second attempt in 2021, he was a part of the 53-man roster, playing in eight games before he was waived.

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Ironically, the Vikings claimed him off waivers but he failed his physical, once again having to go through the waiver process. The Rams subsequently signed him to the practice squad again. While he didn’t play in the postseason, he still was part of the Super Bowl-winning team.

After only playing 96 snaps in the first half of the 2021 season, his career took off in 2022 when he logged 341 snaps on defense and he even increased that number to 598 snaps in 2023. His numbers were lackluster next to Aaron Donald, as he only produced 2.5 sacks, 77 tackles, and 4 tackles for loss in his tenure with the Rams.

His PFF resume is that of a rotational lineman:

  • 2021: 64.9
  • 2022: 53.6
  • 2023: 55.6

Williams is unlikely to suddenly start lighting up the stat sheets but he will be a solid rotational piece on the defensive line whose strength is the running game.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings now employ five defensive linemen. Besides the previously mentioned Phillips and Tillery, there are also veteran Jonathan Bullard and last year’s rookie Jaquelin Roy. It remains to be seen how the rotation will shake out, and other additions will follow, but the group could once again be one of the weaker defensive lines in the league.

Williams is 28 and reunites with his former assistant defensive line coach Marcus Dixon who coached him in 2021 in Los Angeles and was hired earlier this offseason by the Vikings as the new DL coach.


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

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