Grading the Defensive Line
One of the biggest areas of strength of the Vikings’ defense, the defensive line, has continued to play at a high level to make things easier for the players behind them this season. After Week 8, Minnesota ranked seventh in the NFL with 23 sacks and they have a plethora of players that can get to the quarterback.
Leading the way is Danielle Hunter, who may be the league’s quietest superstar. The defensive end leads the Vikings with eight sacks and while that is behind his pace last year, he’s still producing at the same rate, producing a Pass Rusher Productivity rating of 11.0, the fifth-highest total among defensive linemen according to Pro Football Focus.
While Hunter has continued to do his thing, he’s had some added help with the return of Everson Griffen. After a season that was wiped out due to nagging injuries and off the field issues, Griffen is happy and producing for Minnesota, collecting 4.5 sacks and ranking 21st in PRP rating among defensive linemen at 9.2.
On the interior, the Vikings have also received a great bounce-back season from Linval Joseph. The 31-year-old has already tripled his sack total from last year, getting to the quarterback three times and he has seen an uptick in his run-stop percentage going from 7.7 percent last year to 8.5 percent this season.
Outside of the big three, the rest of the defensive line has simply done its job. Ifeadi Odenigbo has notched two sacks and Shamar Stephen has just been where he’s supposed to be to let others succeed. There’s certainly room for growth, but for the most part, this unit has gotten the job done.
Hunter Grade: A
Griffen Grade: B+
Joseph Grade: B
Rest of defensive line: C+