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‘Violent’ Player on Tap to Fill Danielle Hunter’s Shoes

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Minnesota Vikings rookie EDGE rusher Patrick Jones II was selected in the 3rd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the direct trade compensation for Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens one year ago. If you ever want to fully adjudicate if the Ngkaoue experiment was silly, wait to see the full career of Jones. That’s the determining factor for the Ngakoue trade from Jacksonville and to Baltimore — for the Vikings, at least.

Why is he suddenly relevant? Well, the Vikings lost Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter, for the remainder of the season on Sunday night to a pectoral muscle tear. And about two weeks ago, general manager Rick Spielman traded veteran pass rusher Stephen Weatherly to the Denver Broncos.

The DE depth is suspect.

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That opinion can be erased if Jones is productive. Per head coach Mike Zimmer’s musings, Jones should experience some playing time sooner than later. Everson Griffen and D.J. Wonnum will start on the edges while Michael Pierce, Armon Watts, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Sheldon Richardson handle the interior of the defensive line.

Thankfully for the Vikings, Zimmer has positive thoughts – but spooky ones for opponents – about the prognosis for Jones’ abilities:

Make no mistake – the Vikings need a violent replacement for Hunter because, well, Hunter was the innovator of Vikings violence upfront. Jones will not be as disruptive as Hunter, but some semblance of pass rush will be required. Without Hunter for all of the 2020 season, Minnesota was a shell corporation for quarterback pressure, ranking last in the NFL per Pro Football Focus via pass rush. The assets on the team now, though, are more talented. In 2020, the conglomeration of pass rushers involved Shamar Stephen, Jalyn Holmes, Jordan Brailford, and Ifeadi Odenigbo – players since jettisoned from the team due to lack of pass-rushing aptitude.

Jones won’t snatch starting defensive snaps – at least not right way – likely splitting reservist action with 2020 rookie Kenny Willekes, a trade byproduct from the Stefon Diggs trade. Always remember: Jones came from the Ngakoue trade, Willekes from the Diggs transaction.

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Out of college, Jones was fairly coveted. Here’s how Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline scouted the University of Pittsburgh alumnus:

“Athletic edge rusher who causes a lot of disruption behind the line of scrimmage. Plays with proper pad level, works his hands, and is forceful up the field. Explosive, bends off the edge, and displays good change-of-direction skills, flowing laterally to plays. Displays speed up the field pursuing the action, nicely redirects to the ball handler, and has good instincts. Stays with assignments and does more than just pin his ears back and rush up the field. Athletic and agile.

The Vikings own a 3-4 record with a challenging schedule to go. This week, they’ll travel to Baltimore for a date with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Sans Hunter, a pass rush will be tricky to replicate. But if Zimmer is anywhere close to accurate with his assessment, Jones can contribute to a defense that is desperately seeking late-game consistency.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

The post ‘Violent’ Player on Tap to Fill Danielle Hunter’s Shoes appeared first on Vikings Territory.





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