We’re still looking through the Minnesota Vikings’ roster as we approach the 2017 NFL Draft, and we’re on to the defensive side of the ball. We’ll start with the defensive tackle position, which was once a position of strength for the purple but now has some serious question marks.
Again, this depth chart is based on the players that the Vikings have listed on their current roster.
The Known - Linval Joseph
Joseph is on his way to becoming one of the best free agent signings the Vikings have made, in my opinion. After a bit of a down first year, he has been an absolute force in the middle over the past two seasons, and might only now be reaching his prime. We know how strong he is against the run, and now Mike Zimmer wants him to get focused on improving his pass rushing skills as well. If Joseph can bring more of an all-around game to the field and not consistently have to come off the field in obvious passing situations, he’s going to truly be a monster out there. Here’s hoping that the big man has more opportunities to “eat” in 2017.
The Guy Next To Linval - Shamar Stephen
For a guy that was drafted in the seventh round a couple of years ago, Shamar Stephen has done about as well as you could hope. He’s gotten himself into the Vikings’ defensive tackle rotation, but we haven’t heard his name called a whole lot. With the other question marks the team has at the position, he’s likely to find himself on the roster once again, but we don’t know in what capacity he’d be playing in.
The Unknown - Sharrif Floyd
We got the bad news on Sharrif Floyd a few weeks ago that his career in the NFL might be over. . .and not through any fault of his own. Apparently he suffered some nerve damage to his knee during the surgery he underwent after Week 1 last year, and now his quad isn’t “firing” properly. Or, to put it more bluntly, his leg doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. It’s entirely possible that he may never get back on the field, which would be a terrible shame for a guy that’s been very good for this team when he’s been out there. We’re obviously hoping for the best for Sharrif Floyd, but from a football standpoint it doesn’t appear this team should be counting on him any time soon.
The Other Unknown - Tom Johnson
Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the Vikings since signing as a free agent a few years ago. After literally traveling the world in pursuit of a football career, he settled in with the Vikings and has provided a very good pass rushing presence from the inside over the past few seasons. Unfortunately for Johnson, he suffered a torn hamstring towards the end of last season, and as a guy that will be 33 when the season starts, we’ll have to see how he bounces back from that. Hopefully he’ll be able to round back into form.
The Other Other Unknown - Toby Johnson
Many people thought that Toby Johnson had earned a spot on the roster out of Training Camp last season, but was released and re-signed to the practice squad. He did get onto the active roster towards the end of the season after Tom Johnson’s injury, but didn’t see a whole lot of action. The Vikings obviously see something in him, however, and if Tom Johnson’s injury does slow him down a bit, his spot might be Toby Johnson’s for the taking.
The Import - Datone Jones
The Vikings brought Jones in from Green Bay this offseason, and though the roster page has him listed as a defensive end, I’m guessing that he’s going to be seeing much more time inside as a defensive tackle. Miscast as an end in Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme, he’s better suited to play on the inside, and after signing a one-year deal with the Vikings he’ll likely be motivated to put up a big season in 2017 in the hopes of finding a big payday, whether it’s in Minnesota or somewhere else. He’s going to provide some pass rush from the inside, and you can never have too much of that in the NFL.
That’s a look at the depth chart at the defensive tackle spot for the Minnesota Vikings, and I’m not gonna lie. . .it’s actually kind of ugly once you get past Linval Hungry. . .er, Joseph. We’ll take a look at some of the players that the Vikings could, potentially, look towards in this week’s draft. . .yes, the 2017 NFL Draft is this week, folks. . .to add to their roster.