4 important Minnesota Vikings stats to watch for in 2020

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) Jaleel Johnson /

Snap counts for the three-technique defensive tackle position

We at The Viking Age have written ad nauseam about the semi-lackluster output of defensive tackle Shamar Stephen during the 2019 season. We do not dislike Stephen (at all), we’re just flummoxed by the man forcing only two quarterback pressures last year in 579 total snaps.

The three-technique position in a Mike Zimmer defense should probably generate a lot more pressure than that. Heck, former Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson had 25 pressures in 2018. That’s about 13 times as many as what Stephen was able to finish with last season.

Out of all eligible defensive tackles on the current roster, Stephen is compensated as though he is a starter. In 2020, he will earn about $4 million.

Others will be competing for his starting spot this year including Armon Watts, Jalyn Holmes, Hercules Mata’afa, James Lynch, and Jaleel Johnson. The situation is also muddied by nose tackle Michael Pierce’s announcement to sit out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 fears. Bodies will need to fill holes.

Whichever one of these candidates receives more snaps this year will be the odds-on favorite to head into 2021 as the starter at the three-technique spot, especially if it’s a young player who is developing.

Or, if none of their current interior defensive linemen are outwardly impressive this season, the three-technique position could jump to the top of the list of Vikings draft needs next spring.