Updated Vikings roster prediction after first preseason game

ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 10: Sam Bradford
ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 10: Sam Bradford /
7 of 10

Defensive Line

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 1: Danielle Hunter
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 1: Danielle Hunter /

DL: Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Danielle Hunter, Brian Robison, Shamar Stephen, Jaleel Johnson, Datone Jones, Tashawn Bower 

Like Jarius Wright, I had Tom Johnson as a veteran on the outside looking in after a down year last season. Thus far, coach Mike Zimmer has Johnson as the starting 3-technique defensive tackle next to Linval Joseph. He and the starting unit didn’t disappoint against Buffalo, creating all kinds of pressure, so look for Johnson to start.

I firmly believe Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter can be the top defensive end pair in the NFL. Their first game action as a starting pair was stellar. Griffen destroyed the Bills’ starting tackle on a play ending in a sack and Hunter almost brought down Tyrod Taylor for one of his own. Overall, they were all over the field in limited playing time.

From there, Brian Robison backs up at defensive end, yet he will play plenty in passing situations at tackle or end. Shamar Stephen has looked good in camp and is a more natural fit at nose tackle, backing up Joseph.

Datone Jones didn’t stand out in his first game with the Vikings, but I’ve heard positive reviews on his transition to the 3-technique, so he should backup Johnson. As a fifth defensive tackle, I have Jaleel Johnson, who was impressive in his first game. He got to the quarterback twice with one sack and dominated the middle of the line.

Even more impressive was undrafted defensive end Tashawn Bower, who takes the final spot on the line. Bower put a nifty swim move on one of the Bills’ backup tackles on his way to a sack and was around the quarterback all game long. He also batted down a pass and got in the backfield on a couple of run plays.

Bower will have to continue to earn his place on the roster, but he stood out most on the defensive line, giving him the early edge for the final spot. Stephen Weatherly and Ifeadi Odenigbo are also intriguing names for the final spot on a deep line.