Watching the Minnesota Vikings struggle on the defensive side of the ball during the 2020 season was very strange and there’s no other way to describe it.
Since Mike Zimmer arrived in 2014, the Vikings consistently finished each year with one of the top-ranked defenses in the entire NFL. But this definitely wasn’t the case in 2020.
For the first time during Zimmer’s tenure with the franchise, Minnesota’s defense ranked in the bottom 10 of the league in points allowed and yards allowed. It was not a pleasant experience this past season whenever the Vikings defense was on the field.
Minnesota Vikings add to their pass rush in 2021 mock draft
A big reason for Minnesota’s struggles on defense during the most recent campaign was their lack of a pass rush. In the 2020 season, the Vikings finished with just 23 sacks and 110 pressures. Minnesota’s defensive pressure percentage (18.6) was the fifth-lowest in the NFL last year.
So it’s not crazy to believe that one of Minnesota’s biggest priorities during the 2021 offseason will be to improve their pass rush. Zimmer knows that a good defensive front can have a tremendous impact on the rest of the unit.
In a recent 2021 mock draft from WithTheFirstPick.com’s Garrett Ballard, the Vikings went ahead and addressed their pass-rushing priority with their very first selection of the draft.
With the No. 14 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Ballard believes Minnesota will select Michigan edge rusher, Kwity Paye.
At 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, Paye is arguably the best pass rusher available in the 2021 draft pool. He only appeared in four games for Michigan last season, but in 2019, he racked up a total of 50 tackles (12.5 for a loss) and 6.5 sacks.
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If Danielle Hunter can return to his old form and Paye can make a quick adjustment to the pro level, then the Vikings might be on their way back to having one of the top pass-rushing defenses in the NFL.