5 Minnesota Vikings roster spots up for grabs in the 2021 preseason

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Brandon Dillon
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Brandon Dillon /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) D.J. Wonnum /

Defensive End No. 4

The Vikings’ defensive line is going to be vastly improved this season. They get Danielle Hunter back healthy and Michael Pierce will make his Vikings’ debut after opting out in 2020. The Vikings also signed Dalvin Tomlinson and brought back Sheldon Richardson and Stephen Weatherly giving it four experienced players from left to right.

Defensive end is a position that while the starters are likely set, the spots down the depth chart are up for grabs. Patrick Jones was a third-round pick and he’ll likely be the primary backup to Stephen Weatherly but who will man the spot behind Hunter is a mystery.

The most likely candidate is DJ Wonnum. He was, at times, the Vikings’ best pass rusher last year.  He did hit the rookie wall but should be better in year two with a full year in the system under his belt. Jalyn Holmes is a veteran presence who has proven to be a versatile player. He isn’t the pure pass-rusher that Wonnum is but can play tackle in a pinch and that could be enough to keep him on the roster.

A few wild cards who’ll compete for this job are rookie Janarious Robinson and Kenny Willekes. Robinson has had some nice moments at camp so far and is physically and athletically impressive. Willekes is coming off a season-ending injury and is an all-effort player who has a non-stop motor.

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It may not seem all that important who is the backup to Danielle Hunter but the Vikings will want to keep their elite pass rusher fresh all season long and could rotate him in and out of the lineup more than they have in recent seasons. If they do stick to that plan, the player who wins this job could produce decent numbers this season.