The Youngest Vikings at Each Position in 2023: Defense

Jan 2, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward (5) breaks up a pass to Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Mershawn Rice (9) during the first half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings may have gotten younger offensively this offseason, but particularly on the defensive side of the ball, we will see the youth movement truly in effect. Gone are the days where veterans man almost every spot in the starting lineup as the next era of Vikings defenders is in full-swing. With that in mind here is a look at the youngest Vikings at each defensive position in 2023.

Defensive Line: Jaquelin Roy (22)

Apr 17, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (5) is sacked by LSU Tigers defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy (99) during the second half of the annual Purple and White spring game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Jaquelin Roy was selected in the fifth round of the 2023 Draft, actually as part of a trade up that required additional capital. Roy spent his collegiate career at LSU where he terrorized opposing offensive lines for three years. He is a very athletic player and a run-stopping force in the middle of the defensive line who has one of the best motors in the class at the position.

Outside Linebacker/EDGE: Andre Carter (23)

Dec 10, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) reacts after a play against the Navy Midshipmen during the first half of the 123rd Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

Andre Carter was one of the Vikings top UDFA signings and landed one of the biggest contracts ever given out to an undrafted free agent. With Za’Darius Smith no longer in town, Minnesota needs to find some pass-rushing talent opposite Danielle Hunter (assuming he’s still around in 2023), and Carter might just get that opportunity.

Inside Linebacker: Ivan Pace (22)

New Vikings Defender
Nov 5, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (0) reacts after sacking Navy Midshipmen quarterback Xavier Arline (not pictured) in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

This is the UDFA everyone has been talking about since he signed with the Vikings. Ivan Pace was widely considered to be an early Day 3 pick in this spring’s draft because of his hard-hitting, physical nature at the linebacker position in a Cincinnati program that has only grown since he arrived. The Vikings linebacker spot is very much up-in-the-air in terms of who will actually see snaps, so Pace has a very real chance of making the team.

Cornerback: Andrew Booth (22)

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Andrew Booth remains the youngest CB on the Vikings roster after being one of the youngest players in the entire league last year. At just 22 years of age, Booth is hoping to compete for a starting CB spot opposite Byron Murphy, and hopefully, after a disappointing 2022 season, he is able to see much more playing time this year.

Safety: Jay Ward (22)

Jay Ward
Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Jay Ward (16) against the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Ward is listed as a safety, but he can be much more than that. The “jack of all trades” defensive back has experience at safety, in the box, as a slot corner, and as a boundary corner. Minnesota selected him in the fourth round of this spring’s draft, likely with the hope that he would be able to fill in cracks across the secondary when needed.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.