Three Ways the Vikings Can Find Defensive Line Success in 2024

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.

The Minnesota Vikings struggled to find consistent production from their defensive line in 2023.

Dean Lowry had a slow season and then suffered a torn pec, which ended his season earlier than expected, and the Vikings’ depth never found a way to pick up the slack. Now, Lowry is gone as is Khyiris Tonga, so the Vikings need to not only perform better in the trenches, but they also need to find new players to take on larger roles. Here are three ways that could happen in 2024.

Draft Pick

Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates after a play during the second quarter in the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has pegged the Vikings as a team who is going to trade up for a quarterback since they traded to acquire the 23rd overall pick from the Houston Texans. However, what happens if the Vikings are unable to package Nos. 11 and 23 together to move up for a new quarterback?

They very well could end up needing to make selections with both picks. If that were to happen, Byron Murphy out of Texas would be an option at No. 11.

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. He’s been a fantastic pass rusher out of the middle of Texas’ defensive line and would be a major boost to the Vikings’ defense.

Another Free Agency Acquisition

Oct 29, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson (58) celebrates a defensive stop during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have signed Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams to provide some more veteran depth to their defensive line and have also brought back Jonathan Bullard. However, if they don’t draft another defensive end, expect one to be signed in free agency.

Carl Lawson, who has spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, is still available and recorded seven sacks during the 2022 season before his 2023 campaign was derailed by injury. If the Vikings want another solid veteran for their depth, Lawson could still be that at 28 years old.

Young Depth Steps Up

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana State defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy (DL14) participates in the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings don’t make another major acquisition on the defensive line, they will need to rely on Jaquelin Roy to take on a larger role this season.

Minnesota selected Roy in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft after a strong career at LSU. Roy was a proficient pass rusher and run stopper for the Tigers, but he didn’t garner much of a role in Minnesota during his rookie season, playing just 96 defensive snaps.

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

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.