Who is the Minnesota Vikings newest defensive end?
By Adam Patrick
The Minnesota Vikings recently added more depth to their pass-rushing arsenal.
After it was pretty much non-existent during the first couple of games of the season, the Minnesota Vikings have seen a significant improvement in their pass rush during the last three weeks.
Some of the early struggles likely had to do with the Vikings not having Danielle Hunter available and Yannick Ngakoue still getting adjusted to his new team after he was acquired less than two weeks before the start of the 2020 season.
Even without Hunter during the last few games though, Ngakoue has emerged as Minnesota’s top pass rusher, and the team’s defensive line has done much better at pressuring the opposing quarterback. The Vikings had just two sacks during the first two weeks of the season, but the defense has been able to bring down the opposing passer nine times in their last three matchups.
Minnesota Vikings add young pass rusher to defensive line
With there still being plenty of uncertainty surrounding Hunter’s availability this year, the Vikings have continued to look for ways to improve their pass rush. Without a ton of cash to spend though, Minnesota’s options are pretty limited when it comes to adding new players.
But on Tuesday, the Vikings announced the signing of defensive end Jordan Brailford, formerly of the Washington Football Team. To make room for Brailford on the active roster, Minnesota also waived defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa.
Despite getting drafted in 2019 (in the seventh round), Brailford still hasn’t ever been active for a regular-season game in his NFL career.
He missed all of 2019 after sustaining an undisclosed injury during Washington’s training camp. This season, he spent the first five games on Washington’s practice squad before Minnesota signed him on Tuesday.
At 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds, Brailford possesses a lot of impressive physical attributes that should get Vikings fans excited about his potential. Interestingly enough a number of his pre-draft testing numbers compare very similarly to Ngakoue.
Before he entered the NFL in 2019, Brailford spent his college career in the Big 12 as a member of the Oklahoma State football team. During his final season at the school in 2018, the young defensive end accumulated 55 tackles (17 for a loss), 10 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Previously, Jalyn Holmes and D.J. Wonnum were the only defensive ends behind Ngakoue and Ifeadi Odenigbo on Minnesota’s current depth chart. So the addition of Brailford should at least be helpful if one of the Vikings defensive ends has to miss time due to injury this year.
Should Minnesota fans expect Brailford to make an instant impact? Probably not, but he has the potential to develop into a solid rotational pass rusher for the Vikings defense as the season progresses.