The Minnesota Vikings lost Kevin Williams to the Seattle Seahawks, but they still have young, promising players on their defensive line.
The Minnesota Vikings used to be widely feared across the league for their defensive line, but the Williams Wall and Jared Allen have all moved on. There is young blood on the Vikings’ defensive line, and it starts with starting defensive ends Brian Robison and Everson Griffen.
Robison finished with a career-high nine sacks last season, and he has a high motor that allows to be a productive pass rusher. The Vikings showed their faith in him by signing him to a four-year extension in October.
Griffen also signed a long-term deal to remain with the Vikings. The team will pay the former USC Trojan $42.5 million over five years. Griffen has the ability to stuff the run well, and he also showed promise as a pass rusher.
Defensive tackle used to be the biggest strength for the Vikings with Kevin and Pat Williams manning the interior of the line. Kevin signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks after showing decline, and Pat has already retired.
Former first-round pick Sharrif Floyd failed to impress in his rookie season, but the former Florida Gator is primed to improve in his second year as he lines up next to Linval Joseph.
Like Griffen, Joseph signed a large deal with the Vikings. They paid the ex-New York Giant $31.5 million over five years. He proved himself as a solid run stuffer for the Giants, but he does not offer as much in the pass-rushing department.
Third-round rookie Scott Crichton will battle for immediate playing time, and the former Oregon State player will likely be the third defensive end in Minnesota.
Corey Wootton will also provide depth at defensive end after leaving the Chicago Bears. He underwhelmed as a starter when forced into action with the Bears, but his experience will come in handy for the Vikings.
At defensive tackle, Fred Evans and former New Orleans Saints backup Tom Johnson will take over the key reserve roles. Evans offers veteran experience and can be a decent run stopper, but he is a rotational lineman at best. Johnson will presumably play a similar role.
It remains to be seen whether the Vikings will add a ninth defensive lineman to the roster, but seventh-round pick Shamar Stephen will look to add more depth at defensive end.
The unit is no longer the team’s strength, but the Vikings have a promising defensive line that can be plenty dangerous if it makes the necessary strides.