On Monday, Brian Robison announced on his social media pages that he will be coming back for a 12th season.
Robison was once considered an undersized defensive end, but he spent six seasons as a full-time starter. He could still have a significant role on the 2018 club, though there is also a chance other players will see playing time. Let’s have a look at how the D-end rotation could work outside of starters Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter….
What role will Robison play?
On the league’s No. 1 defense in 2017, Robison was more than just a mix-in player. He played 56 percent of total snaps, many in key passing situations. The 35-year-old picked up 4.0 sacks and Football Outsiders credited him with 21.5 QB pressures. Robison’s snap count may be dialed back as Hunter continues to establish himself as a full-time edge rusher, but the veteran has been successful in recent years lining up over the guard on third downs. He is experienced and savvy enough to find ways to the quarterback and line up anywhere.
Which players are most likely to mix in?
The two favorites to earn some playing time as defensive ends are Stephen Weatherly or Tashawn Bower. Weatherly was a seventh-round pick in 2016 who has outstanding athleticism. At 6-foot-4, 270-pounds, he runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. Over the last two years, he’s mostly seen special teams snaps. Last year the Vikings nabbed Bower as an undrafted free agent, The former LSU defensive end showed potential in the preseason but barely saw the field. He did pick up one sack against the Rams.
Who will have to have a great camp to carve out a role?
Ifeadi Odenigbo was a highly productive pass rusher at Northwestern who was picked in the seventh round last year and spent 2017 on the practice squad. The Vikings drafted another athletic freak out of Tulane in Ade Aruna and signed Hercules Mata’afa from Washington State and Jonathan Wynn from Vanderbilt. In order to crack the lineup, any of these players would need to be outstanding in preseason. With a solid special teams performance, they could land a roster spot.