Report Suggests Vikings Remain Interested in a Ferocious DT Prospect

Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates after a sack against TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Josh Hoover (10) in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, November. 11, 2023, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

Just about everyone is expecting the Minnesota Vikings to trade up and select a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

This became the consensus after Minnesota traded to acquire the 23rd overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft from the Houston Texans, meaning they now hold both Nos. 11 and 23 in the first round. However, the draft is very unpredictable, and as a result, the Vikings are exploring all options. This week, it was reported that they attended Texas’ pro day, which included meeting with one of the top DT prospects in this spring’s draft, Byron Murphy.

Vikings Attend Top DT Prospect’s Pro Day

DT Prospect
Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates sacking Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht (3) during the game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2023 in Ames, Iowa.

Tony Pauline wrote of the pro day, which took place on Thursday, “The Bears, Falcons, and Colts, met with Murphy in the past two days, as did the Vikings. Word since the Shrine Bowl was that the Vikings would take Murphy with the 11th pick of Round 1. Obviously the focus has shifted to the quarterback position. Yet the feeling they were giving off at pro day is that Murphy would be their contingency plan at 11 if no signal caller is available.”

The Vikings have made a few moves to shore up their defensive line this offseason, but none of their moves can be regarded as significant changes. They re-signed Jonathan Bullard to bring him back to Minnesota for a third season while also signing former first-round pick Jerry Tillery.

Tillery had high expectations coming into the NFL, but he fell well short of them. After being selected with the 28th overall pick in 2019, the defensive tackle has played 79 games and started 39 times in his first five NFL seasons. In total, he’s put together 147 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles.

Sep 25, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (99) heads onto the field during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A selection of Murphy, though, has the potential to change Minnesota’s defensive front for years to come. The Vikings will need some extra pass rushing help from this group after losing all three of Marcus Davenport, Danielle Hunter, and D.J. Wonnum in free agency, and Murphy is a perfect candidate to do that.

Over his three seasons at Texas, Murphy piled up 70 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and eight sacks, including 8.5 TFLs and five sacks in 2023 as the Longhorns qualified for the College Football Playoff.

At 6’1″ and right around 300 pounds, Murphy is a powerful player in the trenches capable of overwhelming opposing guards with his bull rush while also being an elite athlete at the position with plenty of countermoves in his arsenal.

Texas Longhorns defensive end Barryn Sorrell (88) and Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) take down Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Evan Svoboda (17) during the Texas Longhorns’ game against the Wyoming Cowboys, Saturday, Sept. 16 at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.

Overall, the Vikings certainly may try to trade up for a QB this spring. It would make sense to do so after Kirk Cousins left in free agency and considering the talent at the position in this class.

However, if the Vikings are forced to settle for a consolation prize, a wrecking ball at the DT spot like Murphy certainly wouldn’t be a bad option, either.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference CFB.

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.