2. Stephen Weatherly – DE
Weatherly was a huge bright spot for the Vikings last season. There were many in the media, myself included, that weren’t 100 percent convinced that he was even going to make the team in 2018.
He had a fairly quiet preseason but ended up on the final depth chart when all the dust settled. Weatherly got the start in Week 3 when Everson Griffen was out due to personal reasons the young defensive end took advantage of the opportunity.
He showed great burst off the edge and was consistently in the face of opposing quarterbacks. Weatherly also played well against the run and showed he can be a complete defensive end in the NFL.
Once Griffen came back in Week 9, Weatherly took on a situational role, but he continued racking up tackles and pressures when he got the chance. He finished the year with a career-best 35 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble.
Weatherly also showed some character on the field during the game against the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. Following a play, he fully extended and just rolled across the field until FOX finally went to commercial. That was easily one my favorite moments of the entire season.
With Griffen and Hunter ahead of him on the depth chart, Weatherly won’t be a starter anytime soon. But he has proven that he will be a high-level backup and a dangerous rotational player for Minnesota in the future.