Minnesota Vikings: 5 players who could break out in 2020

Wide receiver Justin Jefferson #2 of the LSU Tigers (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson #2 of the LSU Tigers (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Armon Watts, Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Armon Watts /

Minnesota Vikings Breakout Candidate No. 2: Armon Watts

As a seventh-round pick last season, nobody expected defensive lineman Armon Watts to be an immediate contributor to the Vikings defense. But after a small sample size, there’s a chance Watts could be the next late-round pick to be developed and breakout on the defensive line.

Coming out of Arkansas, Watts was a project for co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson. While he didn’t even see the field in the first three years with the Razorbacks, Watts erupted with seven sacks in his senior season. That performance led him to get drafted and while he had the production, he just needed to learn the technical aspects to become a solid player in the NFL.

That leads to his rookie season, where he didn’t see much time on the field with just 53 pass-rushing snaps per Pro Football Focus. While that doesn’t sound promising, Watts did some damage when he was on the field, recording a 5.7 pass-rusher productivity rating and a pair of sacks in limited action.

It doesn’t get talked about much, but the defensive tackle spot next to Michael Pierce should be up for grabs this season. The Vikings staff loves Shamar Stephen, but he doesn’t do much on the stat sheet. Others, such as Jaleel Johnson and Jalyn Holmes, haven’t done much and Minnesota added some more talent on the inside with fourth-round pick James Lynch.

For a team that had to move EDGEs Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen to the inside during their win over New Orleans, the Vikings need an upgrade at 3-technique, and Watts could be the player who steps up.