4 Vikings defensive players on the bubble entering training camp

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Cameron Smith
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Cameron Smith /
2 of 5
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) Anthony Zettel /

Anthony Zettel – DE

The Vikings weren’t able to bring back Everson Griffen this offseason, so they added Anthony Zettel to provide some veteran depth for their defensive end group. Zettel has been in the NFL since 2016, starting his career as a member of the Detroit Lions.

He had a breakout 2017 season with 16 starts, 43 total tackles, and 6.5 sacks. He definitely showed during that year that he can get after the opposing passer.

The problem, and concern, with this veteran pass rusher, is he hasn’t sacked a quarterback since the 2017 season. Zettel has done basically nothing since 2017.

Since then, he joined the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and then he went off to have stints with the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers. Zettel has accumulated 20 tackles during his last two seasons in the NFL.

It’s unclear why his play fell off a cliff after the 2017 season. Maybe it had to do with the constant changing of teams, schemes, and lack of overall opportunity, but that is just a guess. Whatever the reason might be, Zettel enters this year’s Vikings camp with no guarantee that he’ll make the team’s final roster.

He’ll find himself in a battle with fellow veteran defensive end Eddie Yarbrough and a couple of rookies in D.J. Wonnum and Kenny Willekes.

Wonnum is pretty much a lock to make the team since he was drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round this year and he’s a favorite of Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson. So it will probably come down to three players battling for one spot.

If Zettel can look like he did in 2017, then there’s a strong chance he’ll make the team. Minnesota would love a veteran presence on the depth chart this season. However, they also have to like Willekes and what he was able to show in college at Michigan State.

If it’s a close battle, the Vikings could definitely opt to go with the younger option and gamble on youthful energy over experience at the backup defensive end position.