Minnesota Vikings 2018 Review: Grading the defense

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter /
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(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Mackensie Alexander
(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Mackensie Alexander /


Another pivotal part of the Vikings’ defense is the team’s secondary. As someone who has an extensive defensive back resume as Zimmer, it’s no surprise that the Vikings wound up ranking third in passing defense this season despite being torched by Jared Goff for 465 yards in Week 4.

One of the biggest keys to the play of the passing defense in 2018 was the turnaround of Mackensie Alexander. The 2016 second-rounder was coming into a big prove it year for Minnesota and while things didn’t go well in the first couple weeks, the 25-year-old quickly turned things around on the field (and off of it) to become a shutdown nickel back.

Holton Hill was also a pleasant surprise for the Vikings this season after being picked up as a undrafted free-agent out of Texas. While it remains to be seen if his past character issues will pop up, Hill was outstanding when called upon.

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He snagged his first career interception against the New York Jets in Week 7 and he was credited with seven pass deflections in his rookie season. If Hill can keep it up, he’ll be a steal for the Vikings for years to come.

While the performance of Hill and Alexander was a pleasant surprise, perhaps the biggest disappointment in 2018 was the performance of Xavier Rhodes.

The former All-Pro really wasn’t himself for most of the season and he routinely found himself in injury drama when he wasn’t getting burned on the field. An offseason should help Rhodes recover from whatever is going on, but with the sudden improvement in depth behind him, 2019 should be a very important year for the veteran corner.

In other news Trae Waynes was solid with an interception and eight pass defenses and rookie Mike Hughes flashed potential before going down with a torn ACL. In any event, the Vikings’ cornerback group has a bright future.

Mackensie Alexander: B+

Holton Hill: B

Trae Waynes: B

Xavier Rhodes: C

Mike Hughes: Incomplete