How three new edge-rushers can correct the Vikings’ boom-or-bust blitz approach

It should surprise no one familiar with Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ body of work that Minnesota ranked first in the NFL last season in blitz rate — at 51.5%, they were the only NFL team to bring the house in a relative sense on more than half their defensive snaps. However, their 43 sacks and 21.9% pressure rate were decidedly middle of the pack.

That boom-and-bust problem came from the field to a large degree. In 2023, Danielle Hunter led the Vikings with 18 sacks and 80 total pressures. After that, it was D.J. Wonnum with nine sacks and 38 total pressures. After that? Well, safety Harrison Phillips ranked third on the team with four sacks, and with no disrespect to Mr. Philips, that’s not what you want out of your defense. The Vikings lost Hunter in the offseason to the Houston Texans, so general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had some work to do, and that would have been the case had he been able to keep Hunter on the roster.

The path started with a switch, as the Vikings signed former Texans edge-rusher Jonathan Greenard to a four-year, $76 million contract with $42 million guaranteed. The former third-round pick out of Florida had a career in 2023 with 14 sacks and 53 total pressures. Greenard doesn’t have Hunter’s explosiveness off the snap, but he does bring a nice combination of power, speed, and pass-rush moves.

Step 2 was the addition of ex-Dolphins defender Andrew Van Ginkel with a two-year, $20 million contract with $13 million guaranteed. Last season, Van Ginkel had his own career year with eight sacks and 53 total pressures, and he did that at the line and as an off-ball linebacker — which makes his place in Flores’ multiple blitz packages especially interesting.

Then, the Vikings took Alabama edge-rusher Dallas Turner with the 17th overall pick in the draft. Turner has yet to fully develop his pass-rush arsenal, but his skill set is reminiscent of a young Danielle Hunter, and Turner said after he was drafted that he models his game after Hunter’s.

“Because of the body type,” Turner said of Hunter. “He’s not that big. He’s definitely swole, but the body type, he’s not the most fast or athletic dude, but he gets it done every time, so I really see that a lot and watched his film a lot. Some of the moves that he did, I kind of did, too.”

Ideally, this acquisition of riches will make Flores’ defense everything he wants it to be with his aggressive playbook.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire