Forces Players Into New Roles
Without Michael Pierce anchoring their defensive line, the Vikings will have to shuffle guys around to make the strongest line they possibly can from what they have. Shamar Stephen played the three-technique a season ago and he could be moved to the nose position.
If he is, then players like Jaleel Johnson, Armon Watts, James Lynch, and Jalyn Holmes will all battle to be the three-technique penetrator on the Vikings’ defensive line.
Not only does Pierce’s loss force players into new positions, but it could also shoot guys up the depth chart and force them into starting roles before they are ready. While Stephen now becomes the favorite to start at nose tackle, he’s no lock to do so. Jaleel Johnson is also big enough to anchor against the run and could certainly contend for a starting job, after coming off his best season of 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Armon Watts played some nose tackle a season ago and performed quite well. While Watts was probably at least a year away from being ready to start, this could force him into a starting role earlier and the Vikings will hope that he’s ready for it.