It’s that time of year where a team is loaded up on talent at many positions. Sadly, not all of those players will go on to make the 53 man roster or the practice squad. This the the sixth installment in the Minnesota Vikings position battle series and is all about the defensive tackles!
Let’s take a look at the defensive tackles currently on the roster:
- #73 Sharrif Floyd
- #76 Isame Faciane
- #79 Kheeston Randall
- #90 Fred Evans
- #91 Chase Baker
- #93 Shamar Stephen
- #98 Linval Joseph
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these guys:
Sharrif Floyd was somewhat disappointing last year after being the #23 overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings 1n 2013. He will have to step up big time this year in order to fill the hole left by the departure of Kevin Williams. However, he will be a starter this year almost by default.
Isame Faciane has been turning heads in camp activities and looks to have his stock rising quickly. He was an undrafted free agent out of Florida International who should be competing for the final spot on the 53 man roster or the practice squad.
Kheeston Randall has bounced around the league a bit. He started with the Dolphins, moved to the Bengals, and finally ended up with the Minnesota Vikings. Head coach Mike Zimmer must think a lot of him since he was brought in almost immediately following his hire.
Fred Evans outplayed former starter Letroy Guion last season and should be one of the best backup defensive tackles in the NFL. He shows confidence on the field and (if he can get past getting dumb penalties once in a while) should be a valuable asset for this defensive line.
Chase Baker has always been a bit of a question mark for me. He has never really impressed me enough for me to think that he warrants a place on the 53 man roster. He was a member of the Minnesota Vikings practice squad last year and hopes to advance this year to the main roster.
Shamar Stephen is a 7th round draft pick from the 2014 NFL Draft. The team has already stated how highly they hold Stephen in regards to his ability in the middle of the defensive line. That kind of endorsement is exactly the kind of thing you want to hear about a late round draft pick.
Linval Joseph was one of the Minnesota Vikings biggest free agent acquisitions this offseason in many more ways than one. The team has lacked a true big man presence in the middle since the days of the Williams Wall and look to get that kind of production back with Joseph and Floyd.
Here are the players I see making the 53 man roster:
- Sharrif Floyd
- Linval Joseph
- Fred Evans
- Shamar Stephen
Analysis of My Prediction
Look to Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph to be the starting defensive tackles this year. Fred Evans provides a veteran backup at a great cost. Shamar Stephen has impressed so far at rookie camp and OTAs. There won’t be a need for a 5th defensive tackle since a defensive end will most likely line up on the inside in obvious passing downs. The rest of the defensive tackles should hope to latch on to the practice squad if possible.