Weekly Vikings Roundup

Last week, we took a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line depth chart. If you happened to miss the article, you can find it on my Facebook page through the web address that’s listed below.

Jordan COLUMN BOXLast week, we took a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line depth chart. If you happened to miss the article, you can find it on my Facebook page through the web address that’s listed below.

The Minnesota Vikings finished the 2015 season seventh in the league with 43 sacks, and many of those were because of the defensive ends. Historically the Vikings have had great defensive ends; from Carl Ellers and Jim Marshall of the purple people eaters in the 70s, to Chris Doleman and the 1989 squad that finished second in NFL history with 71 sacks. While the Vikings’ defensive ends in 2016 might not be household names, there is no doubt that once again the Vikings have an impressive collection of talent at the position.

Starters: Everson Griffen and Brian Robison

When Everson Griffen signed a 5-year, $42.5 million contract in 2014, many around the league were wondering what the Vikings were thinking. Since the signing, however, Griffen has started all but one game while racking up double digit sacks each season. Griffen was given a grade of 82.9 by Pro Football Focus and also earned his first Pro Bowl in 2015. Only 28 years old, Everson should be a staple at right defensive end for a long time to come.

Brian Robison has been starting at left defensive end since 2011. While he has yet to put up double digit sacks in a season, Robison brings value to the team by other means. Besides providing a veteran presence on the field as well as in the locker room, Robison is incredibly reliable, having only missed one start over the past five seasons. At 33 years old, Robison doesn’t have many years left in the tank, but he is still a quality pass rusher who will likely play another year or two before retiring.

Backups: Danielle Hunter and Stephen Weatherly

Last year, Danielle Hunter was drafted in the third round out of LSU as a player with vast and untapped potential. A player who was not expected to contribute for a couple years, Hunter impressed coach Zimmer enough that he became the primary backup as a rookie. Any highlight you watch of him will show his lightning fast burst off the line and the quickness to get around offensive tackles, but Hunter was also given the highest run defense grade of any Vikings defensive end in 2015. At only 21 years old, Danielle will serve another year as the primary backup before stepping into Brian Robison’s spot in 2017.

This past draft, Stephen Weatherly, similar to Hunter last year, was a mid-round draft pick who was picked based on potential. Weatherly played linebacker at Vanderbilt, but will be moved to defensive end in the Vikings’ 4-3 defensive scheme. Standing 6-foot 4-inches, weighing 267, and running a 4.61 40-yard dash (which is the second fastest at this year’s combine for defensive ends), Weatherly will have the coaches anxious to see what he can do.

On the bubble: Scott Crichton, Zach Moore, Denzell Perine, Justin Trattou

Last season, the Vikings kept five defensive ends on their opening day roster, so there is a chance that one of the players on the bubble could make the final 53. In 2015 however, Griffen received 933 defensive snaps, Robison got 962, and Hunter got 426, which left only 160 snaps to be divided between the remaining players.

Scott Crichton was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft, but he hasn’t shown much promise when he’s seen the field, which has led to the drafting of Hunter and Weatherly. Trattou was re-signed this offseason, but only to a one-year contract and doesn’t factor into the Vikings’ long-term plans. Zach Moore is a local guy who the Vikings got from the Patriots last season and could be a candidate for the practice squad. Denzell Perine is an undrafted rookie who played linebacker in college, but will make the shift to defensive end in the NFL.

Next week we will be taking a look at the defensive tackles. If you have anything specific you’d like to know about them, or if you have any comments or questions about the defensive ends, reach out to me! E-mail: skoljwright@gmail.com, Facebook: facebook.com/skoljwright, or Twitter: @skoljwright