Will someone emerge as a pass-rushing 3-tech?
Last season, the Vikings were excited to sign Shamar Stephen away from a one-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks. As current Minnesota co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson sang his praises, there weren’t many Vikings fans that were excited and Stephen rewarded everyone by ranking 116th in pass rusher productivity rating and run stop percentage per Pro Football Focus.
So the Vikings might love Stephen more because he’s in a position to help others such as Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr make plays, but they still need someone that can create penetration in the middle. Free-agent acquisition Michael Pierce should help, but it would be great if they could find a pass rusher to team with him on the inside.
One name that could step up is Armon Watts. The 2019 sixth-round pick out of Arkansas wasn’t on the field much last season. But when he was, he recorded a 5.7 PRP rating which would have ranked 25th in the NFL among qualifying defensive tackles.
Another possibility is fourth-round pick James Lynch, who collected 13.5 sacks during his junior season at Baylor. Although he’ll have to transition from an edge rusher to the inside, there’s potential there for Patterson to work with.
The rest of the group has been given chances to take the lead, but none of them have ever come up with it. Regardless, Minnesota will need someone to step up and help take the load, otherwise, it could be a struggle in the trenches.