The defensive line of the Minnesota Vikings is among the NFL’s best, and a big part of that is their ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter, and the newly-signed Sheldon Richardson are all very capable pass rushers, and they should have some solid depth behind them this season as the Vikings try to develop some of their younger talent behind that starting group.
Which is why the ranking that Pro Football Focus has for the Vikings’ pass rush in 2018 seems a bit on the low side. They have the Vikings projected to have the ninth-best pass rush in the NFL this coming season. Apparently they were only at #12 last season, which also seems a bit low, so this would represent a bump up in PFF’s eyes.
Here’s what they have to say about the Vikings’ pass rush:
The Vikings locked up Hunter long term after an eight sack, four-hit, 49-hurry performance in 2017, but Griffen remains the top pass-rushing threat on their defensive line. Griffen had his best season since entering the league, producing 13 sacks, 12 hits and 41 hurries during the 2017 regular season and playoffs, helping the Vikings all the way to the NFC Championship Game. The bonus for Minnesota is that linebacker Anthony Barr is an impressive blitzer, and ranked third among all off-ball linebackers with a PFF pass-rush grade of 74.9 last year. On the interior, the uber-talented Richardson arrives in Minnesota after spending 2017 in Seattle, and after producing 23 sacks, 42 hits and 153 hurries so far in his career.
The article talks about Barr’s ability on the blitz, which is strange because it just doesn’t seem like the Vikings call him that frequently to do it. It probably happens more frequently than I think it does, but Barr really hasn’t generated great sack numbers over the course of his career. The team has reportedly started using him more as a down lineman in practices so far, but we don’t know if that’s going to translate to pass rush pressure from him. Obviously it would be great if it did and would just add another element to the Minnesota defense.
Honestly, I think the Vikings’ pass rush is going to end up being significantly better than what PFF has them at in their projections. They definitely have the talent to be a Top 5 unit, as opposed to the Top 10. Thankfully we’re just that much closer to finding out.