LDE: Danielle Hunter
After being considered “extremely raw” and a “reach” Danielle Hunter might have been the biggest steal of the Mike Zimmer era. Hunter has earned the starting role this season after accumulating 18.5 sacks. The hype around Hunter is warranted but should be tempered and remain realistic. Hunter might get double digits sacks again, but if he does not, it shouldn’t be considered a poor season if he only gets 9 sacks. He has been on rotation and fresh for the most part, playing every down might regress him closer to the mean. Make no mistake Hunter is one of the leagues most exciting defensive Ends.
3-Technique: Datone Jones
Jones has been playing with the 1’s at training camp, but his position is not quite solidified. Jones is a former first round pick that was underutilitzed in Green Bay. The Vikings may have better use for them as they try and situate their interior defensive line rotation. Jones pass rush ability will create more penetration on the interior for Joseph to or the defensive ends.
NT: Linval Joseph
Next in line to have a huge pay day might be Linval Joseph. He is almost criminally underpaid as Sharrif Floyd is scheduled to make more than Joseph. He is arguably a top 5 nose tackle and constantly commands a double team in the middle. If Joseph can continue to develop his pass rush, and get a competent partner next to him, the Vikings can employ unique stunts and twist to free up the middle.
RDE: Everson Griffen
Griffen recently signed a four year $58 million contract extension with the Vikings through the 2022 season. Griffen finished the season with eight sacks, 36 tackles, and three fumble recoveries. He has become the Vikings emotional, vocal leader and his story is a model for young players. Griffen is one of a few core players the Vikings wanted to sign to a new deal. With contracts for players such as Diggs, Kendricks, Hunter, and Barr coming up, it would make sense the Vikings to pay vets now, and front load their deals.
The backup defensive linemen will have to factor in to a deep line rotation. With Sharrif Floyd on the Phyiscally Unable to Perform list, the back up positions are up for grabs. Floyd’s return this season will be huge for the Vikings, but until then, one of these players need to show they are ready to play if a starter goes down.
Other Defensive Linemen on Roster