Three unsung heroes of the Vikings defense so far

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Minnesota revamped its defense this offseason by landing some big-ticket free agents.

The Vikings signed players like DT Dalvin Tomlinson and CB Patrick Peterson. Those two grabbed the headlines in the offseason. Both have shown why at various points this season.

But what about the lesser-praised members of the Vikings defense? Here are some unsung heroes from that side of the ball:

DT Armon Watts

Photo: Matt Blewett/USA TODAY Sports

After 2020, the Vikings’ interior defensive line seemed like it needed an overhaul. Watts, a part of that group, struggled in his role as a penetrating defensive lineman. In his 16 games, he had 0.5 sacks and two QB hits. This year, he already has a sack through the first six games. He also has a PFF pass-rush grade of 85.2. He earned a pass-rushing grade of 62.8 from PFF for his efforts last season. Watts has been hurrying the quarterback and making an impact as a fill-in.

CB Mackensie Alexander

Photo: AP Photo/Stacy Bengs

Patrick Peterson has earned the respect of the Vikings fanbase by shutting down his area of the field in 2021. However, Alexander has also made some nice plays in the slot to get the defense off the field. He has three passes defended this season. Minnesota ostensibly signed Alexander with the hope that he could be the team’s nickel corner again. So far, so good.

DT James Lynch

Photo: AP Photo/John Froschauer

Guess who has the highest PFF grade of any Vikings defensive player this season?

That’s right. James Lynch, who has only played 24 snaps on defense, has made an impact this season. Despite limited reps, he has a sack and a fumble recovery. He has a PFF grade of 84.2 so far.

Lynch was an enticing draft prospect out of Baylor. In his second NFL season, he’s shown why.

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